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MtKenzie Wark 



MCKenzie Wark 


Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England 


Thanks to: AG, AR, BH, BL, CD, CF, the late CH, CL, CS, DB, 
DG, DS, FB, FS, GG, GL, HJ, ly JB, JD, JF, JR, KH, KS, LW, MD, 
ME, MH, MI, MT, My NR, OS, PM, RD, RG, RN, RS, SB, SD, 
SH, SK, SL, SS, TB, TC, TW. 

Earher versions of A Hacker Manifesto appeared in Critical Secret, 
Feelergauge, Rhreculture Reader, Sarai Reader and Subsol. 

Copyright © 2004 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College 


Printed in the United States of America 

Library of Congress CatdLoging-in-Puhlication Data 
Wark, McKenzie, 1961- 

A hacker manifesto / McKenzie Wark. 
p. cm. 

ISBN 0-674-01543-6 (he : alk. paper) 

1. Digital divide. 2. Computer hackers. 3. Social conflict. 
4. Intellectual property. 5. Information technology — Social aspects. 
6. Computers and civilization. I. Title. 
HC79.I55W37 2004 

303.48'33— dc22 2004047488 

In memoriam: 
King of the Pirates 




This land is your land, this land is my land 


This land is your land, this land is my land 


This land is your land, this land is my land 


. . . it sort of springs organically from the earth. 
And it has the characteristics of communism, that 
people love so very much about it. That is, it's free. 

— STEVE BALLMER, CEO, Microsoft 



A double spooks the world, the double of abstraction. The [ooil 
fortunes of states and armies, companies and communities 
depend on it. All contending classes, be they ruling or ruled, 
revere it — yet fear it. Ours is a world that ventures blindly 
into the new with its fingers crossed. 

All classes fear this relentless abstraction of the world, on [ooai 
which their fortunes yet depend. AH classes but one: the 
hacker class. We are the hackers of abstraction. We produce 
new concepts, new perceptions, new sensations, hacked out 
of raw data. Whatever code we hack, be it programming 
language, poetic language, math or music, curves or col- 
orings, we are the abstracters of new worlds. Whether we 
come to represent oursehres as researchers or authors, art- 
ists or biologists, chemists or musicians, philosophers or 
programmers, each of these subjectivities is but a fragment 
of a class still becoming, bit by bit, aware of itself as such. 

yet we don't quite know who we are. That is why this [003I 
book seeks to make manifest our origins, our purpose and 
our interests. A hacker manifesto: Not the only manifesto, as 
it is in the nature of the hacker to differ from others, to dif- 
fer even from oneself, over time. To hack is to differ. A 


hacker manifesto cannot claim to represent what refuses 

look\ Hackers create the possibility of new things entering the 
world. Not ahvays great things, or even good things, but 
new things. In art, in science, in philosophy and culture, in 
any production of knowledge where data can be gathered, 
where information can be extracted from it, and where in 
that information new possibilities for the world produced, 
there are hackers hacking the new out of the old. While we 
create these new worlds, we do not possess them. That 
which we create is mortgaged to others, and to the interests 
of others, to states and corporations who monopolize the 
means for making worlds we alone discover. We do not own 
what we produce — it owns us. 

[0051 Hackers use their knowledge and their wits to maintain 
their autonomy. Some take the money and run. (We must 
live with our compromises.) Some refuse to compromise. 
(We live as best we can.) All too often those of us who take 
one of these paths resent those who take the other. One lot 
resents the prosperity it lacks, the other resents the liberty it 
lacks to hack away at the world freely. What eludes the 
hacker class is a more abstract expression of our interests as 
a class, and of how this interest may meet those of others in 
the world. 

[0061 Hackers are not joiners. We're not often wilUng to sub- 
merge our singularity What the times call for is a collective 
hack that realizes a class interest based on an alignment of 
differences rather than a coercive unity. Hackers are a class. 


but an abstract class. A class that makes abstractions, and a 
class made abstract. To abstract hackers as a class is to ab- 
stract the very concept of class itself. The slogan of the 
hacker class is not the workers of the world united, but the 
workings of the world untied. 

Everywhere abstraction reigns, abstraction made concrete. [007I 
Everywhere abstraction's straight lines and pure curves or- 
der matters along complex but efficient vectors. But where 
education teaches what one may produce with an abstrac- 
tion, the knowledge most useful for the hacker class is of 
how abstractions are themselves produced. Deleuze: 'Ab- 
stractions explain nothing, they themselves have to be ex- 

straction may be discovered or produced, may be mate- [008I 
rial or immaterial, but abstraction is what every hack pro- 
duces and affirms. To abstract is to construct a plane upon 
which otherwise different and unrelated matters may be 
brought into many possible relations. To abstract is to ex- 
press the virtuality of nature, to make known some instance 
of its possibilities, to actualize a relation out of infinite rela- 
tionaHty, to manifest the manifold. 

History is the production of abstraction and the abstrac- [009I 
tion of production. What makes life differ in one age after 
the next is the application of new modes of abstraction 
to the task of wresting freedom from necessity. History is 
the virtual made actual, one hack after another. History 
is the cumulative qualitative differentiation of nature as it 
is hacked. 


[0101 Uut of the abstraction of nature comes its productivity, and 
the production of a surplus over and above the necessities 
of survival. Out of this expanding surplus over necessity 
comes an expanding capacity to hack, again and again, pro- 
ducing further abstractions, further productivity, further re- 
lease from necessity — at least in potential. But the hacking 
of nature, the production of surplus, does not make us free. 
Again and again, a ruling class arises that controls the sur- 
plus over bare necessity and enforces new necessities on 
those peoples who produce this very means of escaping ne- 

[0111 Vl^hat makes our times different is the appearance on the 
horizon of possibility of a new world, long imagined — a 
world free from necessity. The production of abstraction has 
reached the threshold where it can break the shackles hold- 
ing hacking fast to outdated and regressive class interests, 
once and for all. Debord: 'The world already possesses the 
dream of a time whose consciousness it must now possess 
in order to actually live it."* 

[0121 Invention is the mother of necessity. While all states de- 
pend on abstraction for the production of their wealth and 
power, the ruling class of any given state has an uneasy rela- 
tionship to the production of abstraction in new forms. The 
ruling class seeks always to control innovation and turn it to 
its own ends, depriving the hacker of control of her or his 
creation, and thereby denying the world as a whole the right 
to manage its avm development. 

[0131 The production of new abstraction always takes place 
among those set apart by the act of hacking. We others who 


have hacked new worlds out of old, in the process become 
not merely strangers apart but a class apart. While we re- 
cognize our distinctive existence as a group, as program- 
mers or artists or writers or scientists or musicians, we 
rarely see these ways of representing ourselves as mere frag- 
ments of a class experience. Geeks and freaks become what 
they are negatively, through exclusion by others. Together 
we form a class, a class as yet to hack itself into existence as 
itself — and for itself 

It is through the abstract that the virtual is identified, pro- [oiUl 
duced and released. The virtual is not just the potential la- 
tent in matter, it is the potential of potential. To hack is to 
produce or apply the abstract to information and express the 
possibility of new worlds, beyond necessity. 

abstractions are abstractions of nature. Abstractions re- [Oisi 
lease the potential of the material world. And yet abstrac- 
tion relies on the material world's most curious quality — ^in- 
formation. Information can exist independently of a given 
material form, but cannot exist without any material form. 
It is at once material and immaterial. The hack depends on 
the material qualities of nature, and yet discovers something 
independent of a given material form. It is at once material 
and immaterial. It discovers the immaterial virtuaHty of the 
material, its qualities of information. 

straction is always an abstraction of nature, a process [0i6l 
that creates nature's double, a second nature, a space of hu- 
man existence in which collective life dwells among its own 
products and comes to take the environment it produces to 
be natural. 


[0171 ijand is the detachment of a resource from nature, an as- 
pect of the productive potential of nature rendered abstract, 

in the form of property. Capital is the detachment of a re- 
source from land, an aspect of the productive potential of 
land rendered abstract in the form of property. Information 
is the detachment of a resource from capital already de- 
tached from land. It is the double of a double. It is a further 
process of abstraction beyond capital, but one that yet again 
produces its separate existence in the form of property. 

[0181 Just as the development of land as a productive resource 
creates the historical advances for its abstraction in the form 
of capital, so too does the development of capital provide 
the historical advances for the further abstraction of infor- 
mation, in the form of "intellectual property." In traditional 
societies, land, capital and information were bound to par- 
ticular social or regional powers by customary or hereditary 
ties. What abstraction hacks out of the old feudal carcass is a 
liberation of these resources based on a more abstract form 
of property, a universal right to private property. This uni- 
versal abstract form encompasses first land, then capital, 
now information. 

[019] en the abstraction of property unleashes productive re- 

sources, it produces at the same time a class division. Private 
property establishes a pastoraUst class that owns the land, 
and a farmer class dispossessed of it. Out of the people the 
abstraction of private property expells from its traditional 
communal right to land, it creates a dispossessed class who 
become the working class, as they are set to work by a rising 
class of owners of the material means of manufacturing, the 


capitalist class. This working class becomes the first class to 
seriously entertain the notion of overthrowing class rule. It 
fails in this historic task to the extent that the property form 
is not yet abstract enough to release the virtuality of class- 
lessness that is latent in the productive energies of abstrac- 
tion itself 

It is always the hack that creates a new abstraction. With [0201 
the emergence of a hacker class, the rate at which new ab- 
stractions are produced accelerates. The recognition of in- 
tellectual property as a form of property — itself an abstrac- 
tion, a legal hack — creates a class of intellectual property 
creators. But this class still labors for the benefit of another 
class, to whose interests its own interests are subordinated. 
As the abstraction of private property is extended to infor- 
mation, it produces the hacker class as a class, as a class able 
to make of its innovations in abstraction a form of property. 
Unlike farmers and workers, hackers have not — yet — been 
dispossessed of their property rights entirely, but still must 
sell their capacity for abstraction to a class that owns the 
means of production, the vectoraUst class — the emergent 
ruling class of our time. 

The vectoraHst class wages an intensive struggle to dispos- [0211 
sess hackers of their intellectual property. Patents and copy- 
rights all end up in the hands, not of their creators, but of a 
vectoralist class that owns the means of realizing the value 
of these abstractions. The vectoralist class struggles to mo- 
nopolize abstraction. For the vectoral class, "politics is about 
absolute control over intellectual property by means of war- 
like strategies of communication, control, and command."* 


Hackers find themselves dispossessed both individually, and 
as a class. 

As the vectoralist class consolidates its monopoly on the 
means of realizing the value of intellectual property, it con- 
fironts the hacker class more and more as a class antagonist. 
Hackers come to struggle against the usurious charges the 
vectoralists extort for access to the information that hack- 
ers collectively produce, but that vectoralists come to own. 
Hackers come to struggle against the particular forms in 
which abstraction is commodified and turned into the pri- 
vate property of the vectoralist class. Hackers come as a 
class to recognize their class interest is best expressed 
through the struggle to free the production of abstraction, 
not just from the particular fetters of this or that form of 
property, but to abstract the form of property itself 

Ihe time is past due when hackers must come together 
with workers and farmers — with all of the producers of 
the world — to liberate productive and inventive resources 
from the myth of scarcity. The time is past due for new 
forms of association to be created that can steer the world 
away from its destruction through commodified exploita- 
tion. The greatest hacks of our time may turn out to be 
forms of organizing free collective expression, so that from 
this time on, abstraction serves the people, rather than the 
people serving the ruling class. 


T\. class arises — the working class — able to question the lozk] 
necessity of private property. A party arises, within the 
workers movement, claiming to answer to working class 
desires — the communists. As Marx writes, "in aU these 
movements they bring to the front, as the leading question 
in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of 
development at the time." This was the answer communists 
proposed to the property question: "centralize aU instru- 
ments of production in the hands of the state."* Making 
property a state monopoly only produced a new ruling 
class, and a new and more brutal class struggle. But is that 
our final answer? Perhaps the course of the class struggle is 
not yet over. Perhaps there is another class that can open the 
property question in a new way — and in keeping the ques- 
tion open end once and for all the monopoly of the ruling 
classes on the ends of history. 

J. here is a class dynamic driving each stage of the develop- [oasi 
ment of this vectoral world in which we now find ourselves. 
The vectoral class is driving this world to the brink of dis- 
aster, but it also opens up the world to the resources for 
overcoming its own destructive tendencies. In the three suc- 
cessive phases of commodification, quite different ruling 


classes arise, usurping different forms of private property. 
Each ruling class in turn drives the world towards ever more 
abstract ends. 

[0261 First arises a pastoralist class. They disperse the great mass 
of peasants who traditionally worked the land under the 
thumb of feudal lords. The pastoralists supplant the feudal 
lords, releasing the productivity of nature that they claim as 
their private property. It is this privatization of property — a 
legal hack — that creates the conditions for every other hack 
by which the land is made to yield a surplus. A vectoral 
world rises on the shoulders of the agricultural hack. 

[0271 As new forms of abstraction make it possible to produce a 
surplus from the land with fewer and fewer farmers, pasto- 
raUsts turn them off their land, depriving them of their live- 
lihood. Dispossessed farmers seek work and a new home in 
cities. Here capital puts them to work in its factories. 
Farmers become workers. Capital as property gives rise to a 
class of capitalists who own the means of production, and 
a class of workers, dispossessed of it — and by it. Whether 
as workers or farmers, the direct producers find them- 
selves dispossessed not only of their land, but of the greater 
part of the surplus they produce, which accumulates to 
the pastoralists in the form of rent as the return on land, 
and to capitalists in the form of profit as the return on cap- 

[0281 Dispossessed farmers become workers, only to be dispos- 
sessed again. Having lost their agriculture, they lose in turn 
their human culture. Capital produces in its factories not 
just the necessities of existence, but a way of life it expects 


its workers to consume. Commodified life dispossess the 
worker of the information traditionally passed on outside 

the realm of private property as culture, as the gift of one 
generation to the next, and replaces it with information in 
commodified form. 

Information, like land or capital, becomes a form of prop- [029] 

erty monopolized by a class, a class of vectoralists, so 
named because they control the vectors along which infor- 
mation is abstracted, just as capitalists control the material 
means with which goods are produced, and pastoralists the 
land with which food is produced. This information, once 
the collective property of the productive classes — the work- 
ing and farming classes considered together — becomes the 
property of yet another appropriating class. 

A.S peasants become farmers through the appropriation of [030I 
their land, they still retain some autonomy over the disposi- 
tion of their working time. Workers, even though they do 
not own capital, and must work according to the clock 
and its merciless time, could at least struggle to reduce the 
working day and release free time from labor. Information 
circulated within working class culture as a public property 
belonging to all. But when information in turn becomes 
a form of private property, workers are dispossessed of it, 
and must buy their own culture back from its owners, the 
vectoralist class. The farmer becomes a worker, and the 
worker, a slave. The whole world becomes subject to the ex- 
traction of a surplus from the producing classes that is con- 
trolled by the ruling classes, who use it merely to reproduce 
and expand this matrix of exploitation. Time itself becomes 
a commodified experience. 


[0311 Ihe producing classes — farmers, workers, hackers — strug- 
gle against the expropriating classes — pastoraUsts, capital- 
ists, vectoralists — but these successive ruling classes struggle 
also amongst themselves. Capitalists try to break the pasto- 
ral monopoly on land and subordinate the produce of the 
land to industrial production. Vectoralists try to break cap- 
ital's monopoly on the production process, and subordinate 
the production of goods to the circulation of information: 
"The privileged realm of electronic space controls the physi- 
cal logistics of manufacture, since the release of raw materi- 
als and manufactured goods requires electronic consent and 

[0321 That the vectoralist class has replaced capital as the domi- 
nant exploiting class can be seen in the form that the leading 
corporations take. These firms divest themselves of their 
productive capacity, as this is no longer a source of power. 
They rely on a competing mass of capitalist contractors 
for the manufacture of their products. Their power lies in 
monopolizing intellectual property — patents, copyrights 
and trademarks — and the means of reproducing their 
value — the vectors of communication. The privatization of 
information becomes the dominant, rather than a subsid- 
iary, aspect of commodified life. "There is a certain logic to 
this progression: first, a select group of manufacturers tran- 
scend their connection to earthbound products, then, with 
marketing elevated as the pinnacle of their business, they 
attempt to alter marketing's social status as a commercial 
interruption and replace it with seamless integration."* 
With the rise of the vectoral class, the vectoral world is 


As private property advances from land to capital to infor- [033I 
mation, property itself becomes more abstract. Capital as 
property frees land from its spatial fixity. Information as 
property frees capital from its fixity in a particular object. 
This abstraction of property makes property itself some- 
thing amenable to accelerated innovation — and conflict. 
Class conflict fragments, but creeps into any and every re- 
lation that becomes a relation of property. The property 
question, the basis of class, becomes the question asked 
everjrwhere, of everything. If "class" appears absent to the 
apologists of our time, it is not because it has become just 
another in a series of antagonisms and articulations, but on 
the contrary because it has become the structuring principle 
of the vectoral plane which organizes the play of identities 
as differences. 

e hacker class, producer of new abstractions, becomes [03UI 
more important to each successive ruling class, as each de- 
pends more and more on information as a resource. Land 
cannot be reproduced at will. Good land lends itself to scar- 
city, and the abstraction of private property is almost 
enough on its own to protect the rents of the pastoral class. 
Capital's profits rest on mechanically reproducible means of 
production, its factories and inventories. The capitalist firm 
sometimes needs the hacker to refine and advance the tools 
and techniques of productions to stay abreast of the compe- 
tition. Information is the most easily reproducible object 
ever captured in the abstraction of property. Nothing pro- 
tects the vectoraUst business from its competitors other than 
its capacity to qualitatively transform the information it pos- 
sesses and extract new value from it. The services of the 


hacker class become indispensable to an economy that is it- 
self more and more dispensable — an economy of property 
and scarcity. 

As the means of production become more abstract, so too 
does the property form. Property has to expand to contain 
more and more complex forms of difference, and reduce it 
to equivalence. To render land equivalent, it is enough to 
draw up its boundaries, and create a means of assigning it as 
an object to a subject. Complexities will arise, naturally, 
from this unnatural imposition on the surface of the world, 
although the principle is a simple abstraction. But for some- 
thing to be represented as intellectual property, it is not 
enough for it to be in a different location. It must be qualita- 
tively different. That difference, which makes a copyright or 
a patent possible, is the work of the hacker class. The hacker 
class makes what Bateson calls "the difference that makes 
the difference."* The difference that drives the abstraction 
of the world, but which also drives the accumulation of 
class power in the hands of the vectoral class. 

e hacker class arises out of the transformation of infor- 
mation into property, in the form of intellectual property. 
This legal hack makes of the hack a property producing pro- 
cess, and thus a class producing process. The hack produces 
the class force capable of asking — and answering — the prop- 
erty question, the hacker class. The hacker class is the class 
with the capacity to create not only new kinds of object and 
subject in the world, not only new kinds of property form in 
which they may be represented, but new kinds of relation. 


with unforseen properties, which question the property 
form itself. The hacker class realizes itself as a class when it 
hacks the abstraction of property and overcomes the limita- 
tions of existing forms of property. 

e hacker class may be flattered by the attention lavished [037I 
upon it by capitalists compared to pastoraHsts, and vec- 
toralists compared to capitalists. Hackers tend to ally at each 
turn with the more abstract form of property and commod- 
ity relation. But hackers soon feel the restrictive grip of each 
ruling class, as it secures its dominance over its predeces- 
sor and rival, and can renege on the dispensations it ex- 
tended to hackers as a class. The vectoralist class, in par- 
ticular, will go out of its way to court and coopt the 
productivity of hackers, but only because of its attenuated 
dependence on new abstraction as the engine of competi- 
tion among vectoral interests. When the vectoraHsts act in 
concert as a class it is to subject hacking to the prerogatives 
of its class power. 

e vectoral world is dynamic. It puts new abstractions to [038I 
work, producing new freedoms from necessity. The direc- 
tion this struggle takes is not given in the course of things, 
but is determined by the struggle between classes. All 
classes enter into relations of conflict, collusion and com- 
promise. Their relations are not necessarily dialectical. 
Classes may form alliances of mutual interest against other 
classes, or may arrive at a "historic compromise," for a time. 
Yet despite pauses and setbacks, the class struggle drives his- 
tory into abstraction and abstraction into history. 


[0391 Oometimes capital forms an alliance with the pastoraUsts, 
and the two classes effectively merge under the leadership 
of the capitalist interest. Sometimes capital forms an alli- 
ance with workers against the pastoralist class, an alliance 
quickly broken once the dissolution of the pastoralist class is 
achieved. These struggles leave their traces in the historical 
form of the state, which maintains the domination of the 
ruling class interest and at the same time adjudicates among 
the representatives of competing classes. 

loko] History is full of surprises. Sometimes — for a change — the 
workers form an alliance with the farmers that socializes 
private property and puts it in the hands of the state, while 
liquidating the pastoralist and capitalist classes. In this case, 
the state then becomes a collective pastoralist and capital- 
ist class, and wields class power over a commodity econ- 
omy organized on a bureaucratic rather than competitive 

[0411 The vectoraUst class emerges out of competitive, rather 
than bureaucratic states. Competitive conditions drive the 
search for productive abstraction more effectively. The de- 
velopment of abstract forms of intellectual property cre- 
ates the relative autonomy in which the hacker class can 
produce abstractions, although this productivity is con- 
strained within the commodity form. 

[oi(.2l One thing unites pastoralists, capitalists and vectoraHsts — 
the sanctity of the property form on which class power de- 
pends. Each depends on forms of abstraction that they may 
buy and ovm but do not produce. Each comes to depend on 


the hacker class, which finds new ways of making nature 
productive, which discovers new patterns in the data thrown 

off by nature and second nature, which produces new ab- 
stractions through which nature may be made to yield more 
of a second nature — perhaps even a third nature. 

e hacker class, being numerically small and not owning [0U3l 
the means of production, finds itself caught between a poli- 
tics of the masses from below and a politics of the rulers 
from above. It must bargain as best it can, or do what it does 
best — hack out a new politics, beyond this opposition. In the 
long run, the interests of the hacker class are in accord with 
those who would benefit most from the advance of abstrac- 
tion, namely those productive classes dispossessed of the 
means of production — farmers and workers. In the effort to 
realize this possibility the hacker class hacks politics itself, 
creating a new polity, turning mass politics into a politics of 
multiplicity, in which all the productive classes can express 
their virtuaUty. 

e hacker interest cannot easily form alliances with forms [oui+l 
of mass politics that subordinate minority differences to 
unity in action. Mass politics always run the danger of sup- 
pressing the creative, abstracting force of the interaction of 
differences. The hacker interest is not in mass representa- 
tion, but in a more abstract politics that expresses the pro- 
ductivity of differences. Hackers, who produce many classes 
of knowledge out of many classes of experience, have the 
potential also to produce a new knowledge of class forma- 
tion and action when working together with the collective 
experience of all the productive classes. 


class is not the same as its representation. In politics 
one must beware of representations held out to be classes, 
which represent only a fraction of a class and do not express 
its multiple interests. Classes do not have vanguards that 
may speak for them. Classes express themselves equally in 
all of their multiple interests and actions. The hacker class is 
not what it is; the hacker class is what it is not — but can be- 

[01^61 Th rough the development of abstraction, freedom may yet 
be wrested from necessity. The vectoraUst class, Uke its pre- 
decessors, seeks to shackle abstraction to the production of 
scarcity and margin, not abundance and liberty. The forma- 
tion of the hacker class as a class comes at just this moment 
when freedom from necessity and from class domination 
appears on the horizon as a possibility. Negri: "What is 
this world of political, ideological and productive crisis, this 
world of sublimation and uncontrollable circulation? What 
is it, then, if not an epoch-making leap beyond everything 
humanity has hitherto experienced? ... It constitutes simul- 
taneously the ruin and the new potential of all meaning."* 
All that it takes is the hacking of the hacker class as a class, a 
class capable of hacking property itself, which is the fet- 
ter upon all productive means and on the productivity of 

[ol^7l The struggle among classes has hitherto determined the 
disposition of the surplus, the regime of scarcity and the 
form in which production grows. But now the stakes are far 
higher. Survival and liberty are both on the horizon at once. 
The ruling classes turn not just the producing classes into an 


instrumental resource, but nature itself, to the point where 
class exploitation and the exploitation of nature become the 
same unsustainable objectification. The potential of a class- 
divided world to produce its own overcoming comes not a 
moment too soon. 


Education is slavery. Education enchains the mind and [oi(.6l 
makes it a resource for class power. The nature of the en- 
slavement will reflect the current state of the class struggle 
for knowledge, within the apparatus of education. 

e pastoralist class resists education, other than as indoc- [oi^gi 
trination in obedience. Its interest in education stops short 
at the pastors who police the sheepUke morals it would instil 
in the human flock that tends its grain — and sheep. 

en capital requires "hands" to do its dirty work, educa- [osol 
tion merely trains useful hands to tend machines, and dodle 
bodies meant to accept as natural the sodal order in which 
they find themselves. When capital requires brains, both to 
run its increasingly complex operations and to apply them- 
selves to the work of consuming its products, more time 
spent in the prison house of education is required for admis- 
sion to the ranks of the paid working dass. When capital 
discovers that many tasks can be performed by casual em- 
ployees with little training, education splits into a minimal 
system meant to teach servility to the poorest workers and a 
competitive system offering the brighter workers a way up 
the slippery slope to security and consumption. When the 


ruling class preaches the necessity of an education it invari- 
ably means an education in necessity. 

[0511 Th e so-called "middle class" achieve their privileged access 
to consumption and security through education, in which 
they are obliged to invest a substantial part of their income, 
acquiring as their property a degree which represents the 
sorry fact that "the candidate can tolerate boredom and 
knows how to follow rules."* But most remain workers, 
even though they grep information rather than pick cotton 
or bend metal. They work in factories, but are trained to 
think of them as offices. They take home wages, but are 
trained to think of it as a salary. They wear a uniform, but 
are trained to think of it as a suit. The only difference is that 
education has taught them to give different names to the in- 
struments of exploitation, and to despise those of their own 
class who name them differently. 

[052] Education is organized as a prestige market, in which a 
few scarce qualifications provide entree to the highest paid 
work, and everything else arranges itself in a pyramid of 
prestige and price below. Scarcity infects the subject with 
desire for education as a thing that confers a magic ability 
to gain a "salary" with which to acquire still more things. 
Through the instrument of scarcity and the hierarchical ra- 
tioning of education, workers are persuaded to see educa- 
tion much as the ruling class would have them see it — as a 

[0531 Vl^orke rs have a genuine interest in education that secures 
employment. They desire an education that contains at least 


some knowledge, but often conceived of in terms of oppor- 
tunity for work. Capitalists can also be heard demanding ed- 
ucation for work. But where workers have an interest in ed- 
ucation that gives them some capacity to move between 
jobs and industries, thus preserving some autonomy, cap- 
italists demand a paring down of education to its most func- 
tional vocational elements, to the bare necessity compatible 
with a particular function. 

e information proletariat — infoproles — stand outside lo5Ki 
this demand for education as impaid slavery that anticipates 
the wage slave's Ufe. They embody a residual, antagonistic 
class awareness, and resist the slavery of education. They 
know only too well that capital has little use for them other 
than as the lowest paid wage slaves. They know only too 
well that scholars and the media treat them like objects for 
their idle curiosity. The infoproles resent education and live 
by the knowledge of the streets. They are soon known to 
the pohce. 

hacker class has an ambivalent relation to education. [oS51 
Hackers desire knowledge, not education. The hacker 
comes into being through the pure liberty of knowledge in 
and of itself. This puts the hacker into an antagonistic rela- 
tionship to the struggle on the part of the capitalist class to 
make education an induction into wage slavery. 

Hackers may lack an understanding of the different rela- [0S6l 
tionship workers have to education, and may fall for the elit- 
ist and hierarchical culture of education, which merely rein- 
forces its scarcity and its economic value. The hacker may 


be duped by the blandishments of prestige and put virtuality 
in the service of conformity, professional elitism in place of 
collective experience, and depart from the emergent culture 
of the hacker class. This happens when hackers make a fe- 
tish of what their education represents, rather than express- 
ing themselves through knowledge. 

Education is not knowledge. Nor is it the necessary means 
to acquire knowledge. Knowledge may arise just as readily 
from everyday life. Education is the organization of knowl- 
edge within the constraints of scarcity, under the sign of 
property. Education turns the subjects who enter into its 
portals into objects of class power, functional elements who 
have internalized its discipline. Education turns those who 
resist its objectification into known and monitored objects 
of other regimes of objectification — the police and the soft 
cops of the disciplinary state. Education produces the sub- 
jectivity that meshes with the objectivity of commodified 
production. One may acquire an education, as if it was a 
thing, but one becomes knowledgeable through a process of 
transformation. Knowledge, as such, is only ever partially 
captured by education. Knowledge as a practice always 
eludes and exceeds it. "There is no property in thought, no 
proper identity, no subjective ownership."* 

Ihe hack expresses knowledge in its virtuality, by produc- 
ing new abstractions that do not necessarily fit the disciplin- 
ary regime that is managing and commodifying education. 
Knowledge at its most abstract and productive may be rare, 
but this rarity has nothing to do with the scarcity imposed 
upon it by the commodification and hierarchy of education. 


The rarity of knowledge expresses the elusive multiplicity 
of nature itself, which refuses to be disciplined. Nature un- 
folds in its own time. 

In their struggle for the heart and soul of the learning [o591 
apparatus, hackers need allies. By embracing the class de- 
mands of the workers for knowledge that equips them with 
the cunning and skill to work in this world, hackers can 
break the link between the demands of the capitalist class 
for the shaping of tools for its own use, and that of the 
workers for practical knowledge useful to their lives. This 
can be combined with a knowledge based in the self-under- 
standing of the worker as a member of a class with class in- 

e cultures of the working class, even in their commodi- [060I 
fied form, stiU contain a class sensibility useful as the basis 
for a collective self-knowledge. The hacker working within 
education has the potential to gather and propagate this ex- 
perience by abstracting it as knowledge. The virtuality of ev- 
eryday life is the joy of the producing classes. The virtuality 
of the experience of knowledge is the joy that the hacker ex- 
presses through the hack. The hacker class is only enriched 
by the discovery of the knowledge latent in the experience 
of everyday working life, which can be abstracted from its 
commodifed form and expressed in its virtuality. 

Understanding and embracing the class culture and inter- [061I 
ests of the working class can advance the hacker interest in 
many ways. It provides a numerically strong body of allies 
for a much more minoritarian interest in knowledge. It pro- 


vides a meeting point for potential class allies. It opens the 
possibility of discovering the tactics of everyday hacking of 
the worker and farmer classes. 

Jjoth workers and hackers have an interest in schooling 
in which resources are allocated on the socialized — and so- 
cializing — ^basis Marx identified: "To each according to their 
needs, from each according to their abilities."* No matter 
how divergent in their understanding of the purpose of 
knowledge, workers and hackers have in common an in- 
terest in resisting educational "content" that merely trains 
slaves for commodity production, but also in resisting the in- 
roads the vectoralist class wishes to make into education as 
an "industry." 

Vlfithin the institutions of education, some struggle as 
workers against the exploitation of their labor. Others strug- 
gle to democratize the institution's governance. Others 
struggle to make it answerable to the needs of the produc- 
tive classes. Others struggle for the autonomy of knowl- 
edge. All of these sometimes competing and conflicting de- 
mands are elements of the same struggle for knowledge 
that is free production in itself and yet is not just free pro- 
duction for itself, but rather for the productive classes. 

the south and the east, the pastoral class still turns peasants 
into farmers, expropriating their traditional rights and 
claiming land as property. Peasants still struggle to subsist in 
their new-found freedom from the means of survival. Capi- 
tal still turns peasants into workers and exploits them to the 
maximum biologically possible. They produce the material 

is forearmed. In the underdeveloped world, i: 



goods that the vectoral class in the overdeveloped world 
stamps with its logos, according to designs it protects with 
its patents and trademarks. All of which calls for a new ped- 
agogy of the oppressed, and one not just aimed at making 
the subaltern feel better about themselves as subjects in 
an emerging vectoral world of multicultural spectacle, but 
which provides the tools for struggling against this ongoing 
objectification of the world's producing classes. 

e ruling classes desire an educational apparatus in which [0651 
a prestige education can be purchased for even the most stu- 
pid heirs to the private fortune. While this may seem attrac- 
tive to the better paid workers as securing a future for their 
children regardless of talent, in the end even they may not 
be able to afford the benefits of this injustice. The interests 
of the producing classes as a whole are in a democratic 
knowledge based on free access to information, and the allo- 
cation of resources based on talent rather than wealth. 

Where the capitalist class sees education as a means to an [0661 
end, the vectoraUst class sees it as an end in itself. It sees op- 
portunities to make education a profitable industry in its 
own right, based on the securing of intellectual property as 
a form of private property. It seeks to privatize knowledge 
as a resource, just as it privatizes science and culture, in 
order to guarantee their scarcity and their value. To the vec- 
toraUsts, education is just more "content" for commodifica- 
tion as "communication." 

Ihe vectoraUst class seeks the commodification of educa- [067I 
tion on a global scale. The best and brightest are drawn 
from around the world to its factories of prestige higher 


learning in the overdeveloped world. The underdeveloped 
world rightly complains of a 'Tsrain drain," a siphoning of 
its intellectual resources. The general intellect is gathered 
and made over into the image of commodification. Those 
offered the liberty of the pursuit of knowledge in itself still 
serve the commodification of education, in that they be- 
come an advertisement for the institution that offers this 
freedom in exchange for the enhancement of its prestige 
and global marketing power. 

Many of the conflicts within higher education are distrac- 
tions from the class politics of knowledge. Education "disci- 
plines" knowledge, segregating it into homogenous "fields," 
presided over by suitably "qualified" guardians charged with 
pohcing its representations. The production of abstraction 
both within these fields and across their borders is managed 
in the interests of preserving hierarchy and prestige. Desires 
that might give rise to a robust testing and challenging of 
new abstractions is channelled into the hankering for recog- 
nition. The hacker comes to identify with his or her own 
commodification. Recognition becomes formal rather than 
substantive. It heightens the subjective sense of worth at the 
expense of objectifying the products of hacking as abstrac- 
tion. From this containment of the desire for knowledge 
arises the circular parade of the false problems of discipline 
and the discipline of false problems. 

Unly one intellectual conflict has any real bearing on the 
class issue for hackers: the property question. Whose prop- 
erty is knowledge? Is it the role of knowledge to authorize 
subjects that are recognized only by their function in an 


economy? Or is it the function of knowledge to produce the 
ever-different phenomena of the hack, in which subjects 
learn to become other than themselves, and discover the ob- 
jective world to contain potentials other than as it appears? 
This is the struggle for knowledge of our time. "The very 
moment philosophers proclaim ownership of their ideas, 
they are allying themselves to the powers they are criticiz- 

To hack is to express knowledge in any of its forms. Hacker [0701 
knowledge implies, in its practice, a politics of free infor- 
mation, free learning, the gift of the result in a peer-to-peer 
network. Hacker knowledge also implies an ethics of knowl- 
edge open to the desires of the productive classes and free 
from subordination to commodity production. Hacker 
knowledge is knowledge that expresses the virtuality of na- 
ture, by transforming it, fuUy aware of the bounty and 
danger. When knowledge is freed from scarcity, the free pro- 
duction of knowledge becomes the knowledge of free pro- 
ducers. This may soimd like Utopia, but the accounts of 
actually existing temporary zones of hacker liberty are 
legion. StaUman: "It was a bit like the garden of Eden. It 
hadn't occurred to us not to cooperate."* 


hack touches the virtual — and transforms the actual. "To [071I 
qualify as a hack, the feat must be imbued with innova- 
tion, style and technical virtuosity"* The terms hacking and 
hacker emerge in this sense in electrical engineering and 
computing. As these are leading areas of creative production 
in a vectoral world, it is fitting that these names come to 
represent a broader activity. The hacking of new vectors of 
information has indeed been the turning point in the emer- 
gence of a broader awareness of the creative production of 

Since its very emergence in computing drcles, the hacker [0721 
"ethic" has come up against the forces of commodified edu- 
cation and communication. As Himanen writes, hackers, 
who "want to realize their passions," present "a general so- 
cial challenge," but the realization of the value of this chal- 
lenge "will take time, like all great cultural changes."* And 
more than time, for it is more than a cultural change. It will 
take struggle, for what the hacker calls into being in the 
world is a new world and a new being. Freeing the con- 
cept of the hacker from its particulars, understanding it ab- 
stractly, is the first step in this struggle. 


e apologists for the vectoral interest want to limit the se- 
mantic productivity of the term "hacker" to a mere crimi- 
nality, precisely because they fear its more abstract and mul- 
tiple potential — its class potential. Everywhere one hears 
rumors of the hacker as the new form of juvenile delin- 
quent, or nihilist vandal, or servant of organized crime. Or, 
the hacker is presented as a mere harmless subculture, an 
obsessive garage pursuit with its restrictive styles of appear- 
ance and codes of conduct. Everywhere the desire to open 
the virtuaUty of information, to share data as a gift, to ap- 
propriate the vector for expression is represented as the ob- 
ject of a moral panic, an excuse for surveillance, and the re- 
striction of technical knowledge to the "proper authorities." 
This is not the first time that the productive classes have 
faced this ideological blackmail. The hacker now appears in 
the official organs of the ruling order alongside its earlier ar- 
chetypes, the organized worker, the rebellious farmer. The 
hacker is in excellent company. 

e virtual is the true domain of the hacker. It is from the 
virtual that the hacker produces ever-new expressions of the 
actual. To the hacker, what is represented as being real is al- 
ways partial, limited, perhaps even false. To the hacker there 
is always a surplus of possibility expressed in what is actual, 
the surplus of the virtual. This is the inexhaustible domain 
of what is real but not actual, what is not but which may 
become. The domain where, as Massumi says, "what can- 
not be experienced cannot but be felt."* To hack is to release 
the virtual into the actual, to express the difference of the 


Any domain of nature may yield the virtual. By abstracting [0751 
from nature, hacking produces the possibility of another na- 
ture, a second nature, a third nature, natures to infinity, dou- 
bling and redoubling. Hacking discovers the nature of na- 
ture, its productive — and destructive — powers. This applies 
as much in physics as in sexuality, in biology as in politics, in 
computing as in art or philosophy. The nature of any and ev- 
ery domain may be hacked. It is in the nature of hacking to 
discover freely, to invent freely, to create and produce freely. 
But it is not in the nature of hacking itself to exploit the ab- 
stractions thus produced. 

en the hack is represented in the abstraction of property [076I 
rights, then information as property creates the hacker class 
as class. This intellectual property is a distinctive kind of 
property to land or capital, in that only a qualitatively new 
creation may lay claim to it. And yet, when captured by 
the representation of property, the hack becomes the equiv- 
alent of any other property, a commodified value. The vec- 
toral class measures its net worth in the same currency as 
capitalists and pastoraUsts, making patents and copyrights 
equivalent to factories or fields. 

rough the application of ever-new forms of abstraction, [077I 
the hacker class produces the possibility of production, the 
possibility of making something of and with the world — 
and of living off the surplus produced by the application of 
abstraction to nature — to any nature. Abstraction, once it 
starts to be applied, may seem strange, "unnatural," and 
may bring radical changes in its wake. If it persists, it soon 


becomes taken for granted. It becomes second nature. 
Through the production of new forms of abstraction, the 
hacker class produces the possibility of the future. Of 
course not every new abstraction yields a productive appli- 
cation to the world. In practice, few innovations ever do so. 
Yet it can rarely be known in advance which abstractions 
will mesh with nature in a productive way. 

It is in the interests of hackers to be free to hack for hack- 
ing's sake. The free and unlimited hacking of the new pro- 
duces not just "the" future, but an infinite possible array of 
futures, the future itself as virtuaUty. Every hack is an ex- 
pression of the inexhaustible multiplicity of the future, of 
virtuality. Yet every hack, if it is to be realized as a form of 
property and assigned a value, must take the form not of an 
expression of multiplicity, but of a representation of some- 
thing repeatable and reproducible. Property traps only one 
aspect of the hack, its representation and objectification as 
property. It cannot capture the infinite and unlimited virtu- 
ality from which the hack draws its potential. 

U nder the sanction of law, the hack becomes a finite prop- 
erty, and the hacker class emerges, as all classes emerge, out 
of a relation to a property form. As with land or capital as 
property forms, intellectual property enforces a relation of 
scarcity. It assigns a right to a property to an owner at the 
expense of non-owners, to a class of possessors at the ex- 
pense of the dispossessed. "The philosophy of intellectual 
property reifies economic rationalism as a natural human 


By its very nature, the act of hacking overcomes the limits [oeoi 
property imposes on it. New hacks supersede old hacks, and 
devalue them as property. The hack takes information that 
has been devalued into redundancy by repetition as commu- 
nication, and produces new information out of it again. 
This gives the hacker class an interest in the free availability 
of information rather than in an exclusive right. The imma- 
terial aspect of the nature of information means that the 
possession by one of information need not deprive another 
of it. The fields of research are of a different order of ab- 
straction to agricultural fields. While exclusivity of property 
may be necessary with land, it makes no sense whatsoever 
in science, art, philosophy, cinema or music. 

To the extent that the hack embodies itself in the form of [08il 
property, it does so in a quite peculiar way, giving the hacker 
class as a class interests quite different from other classes, 
be they exploiting or exploited classes. The interest of the 
hacker class lies first and foremost in a free circulation of in- 
formation, this being the necessary condition for the re- 
newed expression of the hack. But the hacker class as class 
also has a tactical interest in the representation of the hack 
as property, as something from which a source of income 
may be derived that gives the hacker some independence 
from the ruling classes. The hacker class opens the virtual 
into the historical when it hacks a way to make the latter de- 
sire a mere particular of the former. 

e very nature of the hack gives the hacker a crisis of [082] 
identity. The hacker searches for a representation of what it 


is to be a hacker in the identities of other classes. Some see 
themsehres as vectoralists, trading on the scarcity of their 
property. Some see themselves as workers, but as privileged 
ones in a hierarchy of wage earners. The hacker class pro- 
duces itself as itself, but not for itself. It does not (yet) pos- 
sess a consciousness of its consciousness. It is not aware of 
its own virtuality. Because of its inability — to date — to be- 
come a class for itself, fractions of the hacker class continu- 
ally split off and come to identify their interests with those 
of other classes. Hackers run the risk, in particular, of being 
identified in the eyes of the working and farming classes 
with vectoraUst interests, which seek to privatize informa- 
tion necessary for the productive and cultural lives of all 

To hack is to abstract. To abstract is to produce the plane 
upon which different things may enter into relation. It is to 
produce the names and numbers, the locations and trajecto- 
ries of those things. It is to produce kinds of relations, and 
relations of relations, into which things may enter. Differen- 
tiation of functioning components arranged on a plane with 
a shared goal is the hacker achievement, whether in the 
technical, cultural, political, sexual or scientific realm. Hav- 
ing achieved creative and productive abstraction in so many 
other realms, the hacker class has yet to produce itself as its 
own abstraction. What is yet to be created, as an abstract, 
collective, affirmative project is, as Ross says, "a hacker's 
knowledge, capable of penetrating existing systems of ra- 
tionality that might otherwise seem infallible; a hacker's 
knowledge, capable of reskilling, and therefore rewriting, 
the cultural programs and reprogramming the social values 


that make room for new technologies; a hacker knowledge, 
capable also of generating new popular romances around 
the altemative uses of human ingenuity."* 

e struggle of the hacker class is a struggle against itself [08I4.I 
as much as against other classes. It is in the nature of the 
hack that it must overcome the hack it identifies as its pre- 
cursor. A hack only has value in the eyes of the hacker as a 
qualitative development of a previous hack. Yet the hacker 
class brings this spirit also into its relation to itself Each 
hacker sees the other as a rival, or a collaborator against an- 
other rival, not — yet — as a fellow member of the same class 
with a shared interest. This shared interest is so hard to 
grasp precisely because it is a shared interest in qualitative 
differentiation. The hacker class does not need unity in iden- 
tity but seeks multiplicity in difference. 

e hacker class produces distinctions as well as relations, [08SI 
and must struggle against distinctions of its own making in 
order to reconceive of itself as itself. Having produced itself 
as the very process of distinction, it has to distinguish be- 
tween its competitive interest in the hack, and its collective 
interest in discovering a relation among hackers that ex- 
presses an open and ongoing future for its interests. Its com- 
petitive interest can be captured in the property form, but 
its collective interest cannot. The collective interest of the 
hacker class calls for a new form of class struggle. 

Ihe hacker class can enlist those components of other [086] 
classes that assist in the realization of the hacker class as a 
class for itself. Hackers have so often provided other classes 


with the means by which to realize themsehres, as the "or- 
ganic intellectuals" connected to particular class interests 
and formations. But having guided — and misguided — the 
working class as its intellectual "vanguard," it is time for 
hackers to recognize that their interests are separate from 
those of the working class, but potentially in alliance. It is 
from the leading edge of the working class that hackers may 
yet learn to conceive of themselves as a class. If hackers 
teach workers how to hack, it is workers who teach hackers 
how to be a class, a class in itself and for itself. The hacker 
class becomes a class for itself not by adopting the identity 
of the working class but by differentiating itself from it. 

The vectoral puts the overdeveloped world directly in 
touch with the underdeveloped world, breaching the en- 
velopes of states and communities, even those of the sub- 
ject itself. The poorest farmers find themselves struggling 
against not only the local pastoraUst class, but against a 
vectoralist class hell bent on monopolizing the information 
contained in seed stocks, or the curative properties of me- 
dicinal plants long known to traditional peoples. Farmers, 
workers and hackers confront in its different aspects the 
same struggle to free information from property, and from 
the vectoral class. The most challenging hack for our time is 
to express this common experience of the world. 

While not everyone is a hacker, everyone hacks. Touching 
the virtual is a common experience because it is an experi- 
ence of what is common. If hacking breaches envelopes, 
then the great global hack is the movement of the dispos- 
sessed of the underdeveloped world, under and over every 


border, following every vector toward the promise of the 
overdeveloped world. The vectors of communication scatter 
as confetti representations of commodified life around the 
world, drawing subjects to its objects, turning on vectors of 
migration on an unprecedented scale. But what remains yet 
to be hacked is a new opening of expression for this move- 
ment, a new desire besides the calling of the representation 
of the object for its subjects, who will arrive, sooner or later, 
at boredom and disappointment. The vectoral world is be- 
ing hacked to bits from the inside and the outside, calling for 
the combining of all efforts at abstracting desire from prop- 
erty and releasing the properties of abstracted desire. 


History is itself an abstraction, hacked out of the recalci- [O89I 
trant information thrown off by the productive altercations 
of presents meshing with pasts. Out of the information ex- 
pressed by events, history forms orders of objective and sub- 
jective representation. 

e representation of history dominant in any era is the [090I 
product of the educational apparatus established by its rul- 
ing powers. Even dissenting history takes form within insti- 
tutions not of its making. While not all history represents 
the interests of the ruling classes, the institution of history 
exists as something other than what it can become when 
free of class constraint, namely, the abstract guide to trans- 
formation of the ruling order in the interests of the produc- 
ing classes, whose collective action expresses the events his- 
tory merely represents. 

History is not necessity. "History today still designates only [091] 
the set of conditions, however recent they may be, from 
which one turns away in order to become."* For history 
to be something more than a representation, it must seek 
something more than its perfection as representation, as an 
image faithful to but apart from what it represents. It can ex- 
press rather its difference from the state of affairs that pres- 


ent themselves under the authorship of the ruling class. It 
can be a history not just of what the world is, but what it 
can become. 

This other history, this hacker history, brings together the 
record of events as an object apart from collective action 
with the action of the subjective force that struggles to free 
itself from its own objectification. Hacker history introduces 
the productive classes to the product of their own action, 
which is otherwise presented — not just by the ruling version 
of history but by the ruling class itself in all its actions — as a 
thing apart. 

Hacker history hacks out of appearances, and returns to 
the productive classes, their own experience of the contain- 
ment of their free productive energy in successive property 
forms. From the direct subjection to an individual owner 
that is slavery, to the patchwork of local lordships and 
spiritualized subjection that is feudalism, to the abstract and 
universalizing private property of the commodified econ- 
omy, in every era hitherto, a ruling class extracts a surplus 
from the free capacity of the productive classes. Hacker his- 
tory not only represents to the productive classes what they 
have lost, it expresses what they may yet gain — the return of 
their own productive capacity in and for itself. 

Ihe history produced in the institutions of the ruling 

classes makes history itself into a form of property. To 
hacker history, the dominant history is but a visible instance 
of the containment of productive power within representa- 
tion by the dominant form of property. Even the would-be 


"radical" histories, the social histories, the history from be- 
low, end up as forms of property, traded according to their 
representational value, in an emerging market for com- 
modified communication. Critical history only breaks with 
dominant history when it advances to a critique of its own 
property form, and beyond, to the expression of a new pro- 
ductive history and history of the productive. 

A hacker history challenges not just the content of history, [0951 
but its form. Adding yet more representations to the heap of 
history's goods, even representations of the oppressed and 
excluded, does nothing if it does not challenge the separa- 
tion of history as representation from the great productive 
forces that make history in the first place. The educational 
apparatus of the overdeveloped world would make even the 
unscripted voice of the subaltern peasant part of its property, 
but the productive classes have need only of the speech of 
their own productivity to recover the productivity of speech. 

Vvhat matters in the struggle for history is to express its [096I 
potential to be otherwise, and to make it a part of the pro- 
ductive resources for the self-awareness of the productive 
classes themselves, including the hacker class. The hacker 
class, Hke productive labor everywhere, can become a class 
for itself when equipped with a history that expresses its po- 
tential in terms of the potential of the whole of the dispos- 
sessed classes. 

11 acker history does not need to be invented from scratch, [097I 
as a fresh hack expressed out of nothing. It quite freely 
plagiarizes from the historical awareness of all the produc- 


tive classes of past and present. The history of the free is a 
free history. It is the gift of past struggles to the present, 
which carries with it no obligation other than its implemen- 
tation. It requires no elaborate study. It need be known only 
in the abstract to be practiced in the particular. 

[0981 One thing is already known, as part of this gift. The con- 
tainment of free productivity within the representation of 
property, as managed by the state in the interests of the rul- 
ing class, may accelerate development for a time, but inevi- 
tably retards and distorts it in the end. Far from being the 
perfect form for aU time, property is always contingent, and 
awaits the exceeding of its fetters by some fresh hack. The 
past weighs like insomnia upon the consciousness of the 

[0991 Iroduction bursts free from the fetters of property, from its 
local and contingent representations of right and appropria- 
tion, and eventually gives rise to an abstract and universal- 
izing form of property, private property. Private property 
encompasses land, capital, and eventually information, 
bringing each under its abstract form and making of each a 
commodity. It cuts land from the continuum of nature and 
makes of it a thing. It cuts the products made out of nature 
into objects to be bought and sold and makes of them 
things also. Finally, private property makes of information, 
that immaterial potential, a thing. And out of this triple 
objectification property produces, among other things, its 
objectified and lifeless brand of history. 

[1001 J. he progress of the privatization of property creates at 
each stage a class who own the means of producing a sur- 


plus from it, and a producing class dispossessed of it. This 
process develops unevenly, but it is possible to abstract from 

the vicissitudes of events an abstract account of the progress 
of abstraction, starting with the abstraction of nature that is 
landed property. 

As land becomes the object of a universalizing law of ab- [loil 
stracted private property, a class arises who profit from its 
ownership. The pastoraUst class, through its domination of 
the organs of the state, produces the legal fictions that would 
legitimate this theft of nature from traditional forms of life. 

Secure in its ownership of land, the pastoralist class im- [1021 
poses upon the dispossessed whatever form of exploitative 
relation it can get away with, and get the state to back with 
force — tenancy, slavery, sharecropping. Each is only the 
measure of the tolerance of the state for the prerogative of 
pastoral power. In its thirst for labor that would make land 
actually productive, and yield a surplus, no indignity is too 
great, no corner of the world exempt from the claims of 
property and the uprooting of its custodians. 

at makes this dispossession possible is the private prop- [103I 
erty hack, by which land emerges as a legal fiction, guaran- 
teeing access to the productivity of nature for the pastoralist 
class. What accelerates the dispossession of the peasantry 
is successive agricultural hacks, which increase the produc- 
tive power of agricultural labor, creating a vast surplus of 

e peasantry, who once held traditional rights in land, find [10m 
themselves denied those rights, by a state apparatus in the 


control of the pastoralist class. The agricultural hack sets 
flows of dispossessed peasants in motion, and they become, 
at best, workers, selling their labor to an emerging capitalist 
class. Thus pastoralism begets capitalism. The pastoral class 
produces "a sodal form with distinctive 'laws of motion' 
that would eventually give rise to capitalism in its mature, 
industrial form."* 

Just as the pastoralists use the state to secure land as private 
property, so too the capitalists use their power over the state 
to secure the legal and administrative conditions for the 
privatization of flows of raw materials and tools of produc- 
tion in the form of capital. The capitalist class acquires the 
means to employ labor through the investment of the sur- 
plus wealth generated by agriculture and trade in yet more 
productive abstractions, the product of yet other hacks, 
which yields the division of labor, the factory system, the 
engineering of production. The abstractions that are private 
property, the wage relation and commodity exchange pro- 
vide a plane upon which the brutal but efficient extraction 
of a surplus can proceed apace. But without the toil of the 
great multitude of farmers and workers, and without the 
ever more inventive hacking of new abstractions, private 
property alone does not change the world. 

-I-Jand and capital for a time represent conflicting interests, 
struggling against each other through the state for domina- 
tion. Landed interests try to achieve a monopoly on the sale 
of foodstuffs within the space of the nation through the 
state, while capital struggles to open the market and thus 
push down the price of food. Likewise, pastoralists try to 


open the national market to flows of manufactured goods, 
while capital in its infancy sought to protect its monopoly 
within the national envelope. This conflict arises out of the 
difference in the property form based on land as opposed to 
capital, which are qualitatively different kinds of abstrac- 

Capital, the more abstract property form, usually gets the [1071 
upper hand in its struggle with the pastoral interest and 
opens the national envelope to cheap primary produce im- 
ports. It reduces the amount of the surplus going to the 
pastoraUst class and secures for itself lower costs of produc- 
tion, thus making its goods more competitive internation- 
ally Struggles of this kind are not uncommon among the 
otherwise allied ruling classes, and are always worth study- 
ing in hacker history with an eye for opportunities presented 
in these moments of transition that the productive classes 
may turn to their advantage. 

e classes that own the means of production, be they a [108I 
pastoraUst class in possession of pastures or farmlands, a 
capitalist class in possession of factories and forges, or a 
vectoralist class in possession of stocks, flows and vectors of 
information, everywhere extract a surplus from the produc- 
tive classes. The extraction of the surplus is the key to the 
continuity of class society, but the form of the surplus, and 
the form of the ruling class itself, passes through three his- 
torical phases: pastoralist, capitalist, vectoraUst; with their 
corresponding forms of surplus: rent, profit, margin. As 
each is based on a more abstract form of property, less and 
less tied to a particular aspect of the materiality of nature. 


each is less and less easy to monopolize and secure. Thus 
each raling class depends more and more on the force of 
law to secure its property, making law the dominant su- 
perstructural form for preserving an infrastructural power. 

classes limit that proportion of the surplus returned to the 
producing classes, over and above bare subsistence, and re- 
turn that subsistence in a commodified form. But this does 
not suffice to dispose of a mounting surplus. The ruling 
classes must find a market for their produce somewhere. 
The colonies, where the agricultural surplus is produced, 
are obliged to buy back their own surplus in the form of 
manufactured goods. 

Capital soon colonizes the culture of its own working class 
at home, who, struggling to gain some of the surplus they 
themselves produce, find that they can only cash it in for yet 
more commodities. The working class of the overdeveloped 
world becomes the market for what they themselves pro- 
duce. They find their interests divided from those of the 
producing classes of the colonies and former colonies. The 
overdeveloped world becomes overdeveloped by limiting 
the ability of the underdeveloped world to sell its produce 
into it, while maintaining its prerogatives over the markets 
of the underdeveloped world. The overdeveloped world 
uses the vector at one and the same time to preserve the 
envelopes of its own states while breaching those of the 
underdeveloped world. The vector secures the identity of 
those who shelter within the envelope it maintains by simul- 
taneously puncturing the identity of those subjected to its 
dislocating effects outside. 

ownership of the means of production, the ruling 


In both the developed and the underdeveloped world, the [nil 
productive classes are induced into identifying their interests 
with those of the ruling classes, within the envelope of the 

In the overdeveloped world, the capitalist class and its ju- [112I 
nior partner, the pastoraUst class, secure the consent of the 
working class through the partial sharing of the surplus, 
which then gives the working class an interest in preserv- 
ing the discriminatory vectoral relations that maintain this 

In the underdeveloped world, the pastoralist class and [113I 
nascent capitalist class secure the support of the predomi- 
nantly farming producers through the demand for a sover- 
eign state free from colonial rule that can develop auton- 
omously, and for justice in trade with the overdeveloped 
world. Sovereignty, whether conceded or seized from the 
overdeveloped world, is not, as the underdeveloped world 
discovers, enough to secure development. Unequal vectors 
of trade were and remain the principal cause of exploitation 
in the underdeveloped world. 

e productive classes are so called because they are the [11m 
real producers of wealth, be they farmers and miners of 
land, workers of material or immaterial value, or hackers 
who produce new means of production itself Their inter- 
ests and desires do not always coincide of their own accord, 
which is why they are considered as separate classes, tied 
to different relations of property, and predominating in dif- 
ferent parts of the world. Taken together they have in com- 
mon their dispossession from the greater part of what they 


themselves produce. Their history is the history of the 
struggle to enjoy the fruits of their own labor. 

[1151 Th e productive classes may struggle directly against their 
appropriators, over the terms of the exchange between 
them, or may struggle indirectly through the state. The 
state, which the pastoralist and capitalist classes used as an 
instrument for legitimizing their appropriation of property, 
can also be the means by which the productive classes seek 
to resocialize part of the surplus, through the taxation 
and transfer of the surplus to the productive classes in the 
form of a social wage, such as health care, education or 

11161 Taxation may distribute the surplus toward the producing 
classes, toward the ruling classes, or may be diverted for the 
expansion and armament of the state itself While the ruling 
class seeks to limit the state's interference in its activities, it 
also seeks to direct the surplus towards its own uses. Capital 
may encourage the state to arm itself, and profit by its arm- 
ing. Here the producing classes end up subsidizing an ar- 
rangement between state and capital — the military indus- 
trial complex. 

I117I Capital usually cedes to the state the information intensive 
functions that were of benefit to the capitalist and pas- 
toralist classes as a whole, or which are concessions won by 
the productive classes. The state becomes the manager of 
the representations through which class society as a whole 
comes to know and regulate itself. The rise of a vectoraUst 
class put an end to this arrangement. The vectoral class uses 
the state to extend and defend the privatization of informa- 


tion. It attacks the socialized science, culture, communica- 
tion and education that other ruling classes for the most part 
left in the hands of the state. "There is an intellectual land 
grab going on."* 

Each ruling class shapes a military force in its own image. I118I 
The vectoralist class supplants the military industrial com- 
plex with the military entertainment complex, where the 
surplus is directed to the development of vectors for com- 
mand, control and communication. Where the military in- 
dustrial complex had socialized part of the risks of new 
technology for capital and had formed a reliable source of 
demand for its productive capacity, the military entertain- 
ment complex provides these same services to the emergent 
vectoralist class. The new military ideologies — command 
and control, the information war, the revolution in military 
affairs — correspond to the needs and interests of the vec- 
toral class. 

At the same time as they privatize what was formerly so- [1191 
cialized information, the vectoralist class attacks the ability 
of the hacker class to maintain some degree of autonomy 
over its working conditions. As the vectoral class comes to 
monopolize stocks, flows and vectors of information, the 
hacker class loses its control of its immediate working con- 
ditions. The hacker class finds its own ethic of labor com- 
promised, and the agenda for the hack determined by neces- 
sities not of its making. The hacker class finds itself sucked 
into the matrix of the military entertainment complex, hack- 
ing out the ways and means of extending the vector as a 
weapon of mass destruction and a weapon of mass seduc- 


11201 JDesides its struggle over the value of its labor, and its 
struggle through the state to reapportion the surplus, each 
productive class struggles over the autonomy of its work- 
ing conditions. Farmers form associations, workers form 
unions. Many seek autonomy through the ownership of 
some productive tools. The hacker class likewise struggles 
for autonomy in a world in which the means of production 
are in the hands of the ruling classes. But the difference is 
that the hacker class is also a designer of the very tools 
of production. Hackers program the hardware, software 
and wetware, and can struggle for tools more amenable to 
autonomy and cooperation than monopoly and competi- 

[1211 There is one other struggle that all the productive classes 
are always engaged in, whether they know it or not. They 
struggle to exceed the limits to the production of the sur- 
plus and its free appropriation imposed as a fetter by the 
commodity form in general, and by its most restrictive 
form — private property — in particular. All of the productive 
classes struggle fitfully to hack temporary zones of liberty 
out of commodified production and consumption. These 
struggles have never amounted to much until the develop- 
ment of the vector opened up the possibilities for the theft 
of information on a grand scale. The productive classes take 
advantage of the contradictions between the commodifica- 
tion of the vector and the commodification of stocks and 
flows of information by rival factions of the vectoral class. 
This is not really theft, but a reappropriation, returning 
some portion of the popular knowledge and culture of the 
productive classes to its collective producers. 


e commodity form is an abstraction that releases an [122I 
enormous amount of productive energy, but it does so by 
diverting production always toward the reproduction of the 
commodity form. That form becomes a fetter on the free 
productivity of production itself The hack is then limited to 
the hacking of new forms of surplus extraction. This is the 
most salient point in any history that aims to become a part 
of the struggle to wrest freedom from necessity. 

As land, capital and information are progressively ab- I123I 
stracted as property, property itself becomes more abstract. 
Land has a finite and particular form, capital has finite but 
universal forms, information is both infinite and universal in 
its potential. The abstraction of property reaches the point 
where it calls for an abstraction from property. History be- 
comes hacker history when hackers realize that this mo- 
ment has already arrived. 

e class dynamic drives class society to the possibility of lizk\ 
overcoming the property form itself, to the overcoming of 
scarcity and the release of the surplus potential of produc- 
tivity back into the hands of its producers. What history ex- 
presses to the producing classes is this unrealized potential 
to wrest freedom from necessity as they experience it. Just 
as property led to the wresting of freedom from natural ne- 
cessity, the overcoming of the limits to property offers the 
potential to wrest freedom from the necessities imposed on 
the productive classes by the constraint of private property, 
class exploitation and its domination of the state. 

hacker history knows only the present tense. 



wants to be free but is everywhere in chains. [126! 

is immaterial, but 

never exists without a mate- Ii271 

rial support. Information may be transferred from one ma- 
terial support to another, but cannot be dematerialized — 
other than in the more occult of vectoralist ideologies. In- 
formation emerges as a concept when it achieves an abstract 
relation to materiality. This abstracting of information from 
any particular material support creates the very possibility 
of a vectoral society, and produces the new terrain of class 
conflict — the conflict between the vectoralist and hacker 

fettered, it releases the latent capacities of all things and 
people, objects and subjects. Information is the plane upon 
which objects and subjects come into existence as such. It is 
the plane upon which the potential for the existence of new 
objects and subjects may be posited. It is where virtuality 
comes to the surface. 

The potential of potential that information expresses has its [1291 
dangers. But its enslavement to the interests of the vectoral 

expresses the potential of potential. When un- I128] 


class poses greater dangers still. When information is free, it 
is free to act as a resource for the averting of its own danger- 
ous potentials. When information is not free, then the class 
that owns or controls it turns its capacity toward its own in- 
terest and away from information's own inherent virtuality. 

[1301 Information exceeds communication. Deleuze: "We do 
not lack communication. On the contrary, we have too 
much of it. We lack creation. We lack resistance to the pres- 
ent."* Information is at once this resistance, and what it re- 
sists — its own dead form, communication. Information is 
both repetition and difference. Information is representa- 
tion, in which difference is the limit to repetition. But in- 
formation is also expression, in which difference exceeds 
repetition. The hack turns repetition into difference, repre- 
sentation into expression, communication into information. 
Property turns difference into repetition, freezing free pro- 
duction and distributing it as a representation. Property, as 
representation, fetters information. 

[1311 Th e enabling conditions for freedom of information do not 
stop at the "free" market, no matter what the apologists for 

the vectoral class may say. Free information is not a product, 
but a condition of the effective allocation of resources. The 
multiplicity of pubhc and gift economies, a plurality of 
forms — keeping open the property question — is what makes 
free information possible. 

[1321 The commodification of information means the enslave- 
ment of the world to the interests of those whose margins 
depend on information's scarcity, the vectoral class. The 
many potential benefits of free information are subordi- 


nated to the exclusive benefits in the margin. The infinite 
virtuality of the future is subordinated to the production 
and representation of futures that are repetitions of the 
same commodity form. 

Ihe subordination of information to the repetition of com- [133I 
munication means the enslavement of its producers to the 
interests of its owners. It is the hacker class that taps the vir- 
tuality of information, but it is the vectoralist class that 
owns and controls the means of production of information 
on an industrial scale. Their interests lie in extracting as 
much margin as possible from information, in commodi- 
fying it to the nth degree. Information that exists solely as 
private property is no longer free, for it is chained to the rep- 
etition of the property form. 

ihe interests of hackers are not always totally opposed to [i3l(.l 
those of the vectoral class. There are compromises to be 
struck between the free flow of information and extracting 
a flow of revenue to fund its further development. But while 
information remains subordinated to ownership, it is not 
possible for its producers to freely calculate their interests, 
or to discover what the true freedom of information might 
potentially produce in the world. The stronger the hacker 
class alliance with the other producing classes, the less it has 
to answer the vectoralist imperative. 

Information may want to be free, but it is not possible to [13SI 
know the limits or potentials of its freedom when the vir- 
tual is subordinated to this actual state of ownership and 
scarcity. Privatizing information and knowledge as com- 
modified "content" distorts and deforms its free develop- 


ment, and prevents the very concept of its freedom from its 
own free development. "As our economy becomes increas- 
ingly dependent on information, our traditional system of 
property rights applied to information becomes a costly fet- 
ter on our development."* The subordination of hackers to 
the vectoralist interest means the enslavement not only of 
the whole of human potential, but also natural potential. 
While information is chained to the interests of its owners, 
it is not just hackers who may not know their interests, no 
class may know what it may become. 

[1361 Information in itself is mere possibility. It requires an ac- 
tive capacity to become productive. But where knowledge is 
dominated by the education of the ruling classes, it pro- 
duces the capacity to use information for the purposes of 
producing and consuming within the limits of the commod- 
ity. This produces a mounting desire for information that 
meets the apparent lack of meaning and purpose in life. The 
vectoralist class fills this need with communication that of- 
fers these desires a mere representation and objectification 
of possibility. 

[1371 For everyone to become free to join in the virtuality of 
knowledge, information and the capacity to grasp it must be 
free also, so that all classes may have the potential to hack 
for themselves and their kind a new way of life. The condi- 
tion for this liberation is the abolition of a class rule that 
imposes scarcity on knowledge, and indeed on virtuality it- 

[138I Free information must be free in all its aspects — as a stock, 
as a flow, and as a vector. The stock of information is the 


raw material out of which history is abstracted. The flow of 
information is the raw material out of which the present is 
abstracted, a present that forms the horizon that the ab- 
stract line of an historical knowledge crosses, indicating a 
future in its sights. Neither stocks nor flows of information 
exist without vectors along which they may be actualized. 
Even so, it is not enough that these elements are brought to- 
gether as a representation that may then be shared freely. 
The spatial and temporal axes of free information must do 
more than offer a representation of things, as a world apart. 
They must become the means of coordination of the ex- 
pression of a movement capable of connecting the objective 
representation of things to the presentation of a subjective 

-Lnformation, when it is truly free, is free not for the pur- [139I 
pose of representing the world perfectly, but for expressing 
its difference from what is, and for expressing the coopera- 
tive force that transforms what is into what may be. The 
sign of a free world is not the liberty to consume informa- 
tion, or to produce it, nor even to implement its potential in 
private worlds of one's choosing. The sign of a free world is 
the liberty for the collective transformation of the world 
through abstractions freely chosen and freely actualized. 


e hack expresses the nature of nature as its difference [il|.oi 
from itself — or at least its difference from its representation. 
The hack expresses the virtuality of nature and nature as the 
virtuality of expression. 

Nature appears as a representation at the point at which 
what the representation designates disappears. Once collec- 
tive agency has begun to wrest a portion of freedom from 
necessity, then nature in itself, as pure, unmediated experi- 
ence, appears as the inaccessible object of a longing. Nature 
appears as precious and elusive, always just out of reach. It 
becomes the highest value, treasured for its very inaccessi- 
bility. Contending forces wield it as a weapon in the struggle 
for the hearts and minds of a vectoral people, a people that 
desire a nature that it persuades itself can only be had for a 
price. Nature becomes a sign at stake in the class struggle. 

Nature seized as property makes of it a thing that can be [il(.2l 
appropriated as a value. The property form turns nature 
into an object and its appropriator into a subject. Or so it 
appears in the representation that is the property relation. 
Property produces the appearance of separation from na- 
ture. Property produces the representation of a world that is 


"socially constructed," by separating subjective possession 
from the object possessed. 

[1431 Th rough collective action, the productive classes wrest free- 
dom from necessity, in the form of a transformed nature, a 
second nature, more amenable to existence. The transfor- 
mation of nature into second nature frees human existence 
from necessity, but creates new forms of necessity. Nietz- 
sche: "Every victorious second nature will become a first na- 
ture."* Thus is produced the appearance of the necessity of 
necessity, which is really no more than the appearance of 

HW In the creation of a collective existence, in culture, society, 
economy and polity, collective agency alienates itself from 
nature, and nature from itself It becomes the creator of 
its own nature, if not consciously, then at least collectively. 
Only by apprehending this collective nature consciously, can 
the nature against which agency shapes itself be embraced 
in its difference. Nature "works" — on itself and against it- 
self Producing the difference that is its difference. 

[lUSl Nature seized as property becomes a resource for the cre- 
ation of a second nature of commodified objects. History 
becomes an endless "development" in which nature is seized 
as an object, and made over in the form that suits a particu- 
lar subjective interest. But because subjective interest is hith- 
erto a class interest, a property interest, the transformation 
of nature into second nature produces freedom from neces- 
sity only for the ruling class and its favorites. For subordi- 
nate classes, it produces new necessities. 


society, our second nature, becomes so natural that [ilt6l 
nature itself comes to be represented in its terms. Class is 
represented as what is natural; nature is represented as if it 
were just like class society. As with every representation, this 
double displacement is a play of the false, and in this case, is 
a productive falsification of the false. Only the recovery of 
the history of class society, as the transformation of nature 
into second nature in the image of commodified competi- 
tion, makes possible a recovery of the nature of nature, as it- 
self a history which encompasses this class history, but does 
not of necessity conform to its representation, nor of neces- 
sity impose its inevitability on history. 

Neither the appropriators of nature in the form of prop- [11*71 
erty, nor the dispossessed who struggle for public property 
as compensation for their dispossession, have an immediate 
interest in nature as nature. Theirs is a struggle over second 
nature. Nature itself disappears in its transformation. It re- 
appears as a limit to its endless exploitation only to the ex- 
tent that it is appropriated as property. It reappears to both 
exploiting and producing classes as an inventory of property 
running out. But while the exploiting classes, whose rule is 
based on property, have no option but to see nature as prop- 
erty, and thus as limit, the producing classes express, in their 
productive nature, nature's own productivity, if only it could 
be freed from its representation as a thing exploited to the 
point of scarcity. 

Ihe subordinate classes of the overdeveloped world dis- [11*8] 
cover an interest in nature's preservation at the point at 
which the development of second nature has in some de- 


gree freed them from nature's necessities. But this discovery 
of an interest in nature puts the subordinate classes of the 

overdeveloped world at odds with those of the underdevel- 
oped world, for whom nature is still in the process of disap- 
pearance, and still appears as grim necessity. Property pro- 
duces both the appearance of the scarcity of nature for 
some, and the scarcity of second nature for others; the ne- 
cessity of arresting second nature for some; the necessity of 
accelerating it for others. The producing classes as a whole 
can only reconcile their interests by freeing nature from the 
grip of property, which is what actually divides them. 

[il).9] Nature knows no objects, no subjects, and no representa- 
tion. Its appearance in representation as object or subject is 
a false appearance. Yet it is only in its falsity that it can be ap- 
prehended in class society, which produces the relation be- 
tween nature and second nature as an objectified relation. 
But to rediscover nature as difference, rather than falsity, re- 
quires the transformation of a world capable of sustaining 
itself only by objectifying nature. 

[150] To the extent that nature exists even in its disappearance, it 
exists as expression. Nature still exists, not as the other of 
the social, but as the multiplicity of forces that the human in 
concert with the nonhuman articulate and express. In differ- 
entiating itself from nature, human agency does not alienate 
itself from nature, it merely brings into being yet one more 
aspect of nature's multiplicity. Rectifying the exploitation of 
nature does not mean a return to a representation of it prior 
to its transformation, which can only appear as a false im- 
age, as it too is produced by the very transformation expe- 


rienced as alienating. Rather, out of the multiplicity of 
natures, collective human agency can join its productive en- 
ergies with those that affirm nature's own productivity. "We 
are not in the world, we become with the world."* 

e representation of nature as God's estate, as the engine [iSU 
of competition, as complex data networks — all of these ab- 
stractions of nature abolish it in their representation of it, 
and yet are partial expressions of its multiplicity. Education 
teaches the model of nature that corresponds to the prop- 
erty form of the day — land, capital, information. Each ap- 
pears as more true than the last at the point at which the 
form of property from which it derives has become second 
nature. As each representation of property installs itself in 
the world, falsifying the world itself in its image, it falsifies 
the previous false representation of nature — and validates 
as true the one that mirrors it back in its own mirror. Lib- 
erating nature from its representation is the liberation of 
knowledge from education, which is to say, from property. 

To the hacker, nature is another name for the virtual. It is [1521 
another way of representing the unrepresentable multiplic- 
ity from which the hack expresses its ever-renewable forms. 
There is an interest that the hacker class has in nature, but it 
is not in a representation of nature's "harmony," that nos- 
talgia that may be comfortably indulged in overdeveloped 
world. The hacker interest is in another nature altogether, in 
a nature expressing the limitless multiplicity of things. This 
is the nature from which any and every hack derives. The 
hacker interest in nature is not in its scarcity, but in its multi- 


[153] -Ln the overdeveloped world, the total transformation of 
nature into second nature does more than complete the dis- 
appearance of nature as nature and lead to its return as the 
representation of what desire lacks. The transformation of 
nature into second nature becomes the transformation of 
second nature into third nature. This latter-day transforma- 
tion is driven in no small part by the desire to reconstitute 
nature at least as an image of a lost desire. Third nature 
appears as the totality of images and stories that provide 
for second nature a context, an environment, within which 
it comes to represent itself as the spectacle of a natural 

[iSW Once the vector reaches the point of the development of 
telesthesia — the perception at a distance of the telegraph, 
telephone, television — it effects a separation of the flow of 
communication from the flow of objects and subjects, and 
thus produces the appearance of information as a world 
apart. Information — in the commodified form of commu- 
nication — becomes the governing metaphor for the world 
precisely because it dominates it in actuality. Third nature 
emerges, as did second nature, out of the representation of 
nature as property. Seized as information, not merely as 
physical resource, the genetic makeup of the whole bio- 
sphere can become property, be it as public or private prop- 
erty. This may indeed be the last frontier in the struggle to 
appropriate the world as a resource. This appropriation is no 
less false and partial than its predecessors. It is an illusory re- 
aUty that conforms to the real illusion of property in our 


Ihird nature, in its very totality, its spectacle of vectors and [iSSl 
vectors of spectacle, becomes an ecology of images which 
may yet become an image of a possible ecology. Third na- 
ture relentlessly enfolds the subject in images of the world 
as its object. But in its very ubiquity, it dissolves the particu- 
lar relations of subjects to objects, and represents subjects as 
a whole with the image of an objective world as a whole. In 
its very falsity, it represents the relation between subject and 
object as a false relation, but nevertheless as a relation. Third 
nature reveals its own nature to be something produced. 

ihird nature reveals itself as something not only produced, [iS6] 
but productive. Information appears as expression, not just 
as representation, as something produced in its difference 
from the world. The world appears as something produced 
through the expression of collective action. Third nature 
may come into existence to render quantities of objects to 
subjects as if they were qualities, but it ends up revealing the 
qualitative production of production itself Or at least, this 
virtuality hovers over third nature as its promise. There may 
be no return to nature, but as third nature extends itsetf in 
time and space, it becomes the medium of expression of the 
production of a fourth nature, a fifth — nature to infinity — 
natures which may overcome the destructive limits of the 
second nature produced by class society. 


Xroduction meshes objects and subjects, breaking their en- [1S71 
velopes, blurring their identities, blending each into new for- 
mation. Representation struggles to keep up, to reassign ob- 
jective and subjective status to the products of production. 
Production is the repetition of the construction and decons- 
truction of objectivity and subjectivity in the world. 

duces a production of a new kind, which has as its result a 
singular and unique product, and a singular and unique pro- 
ducer. Every hacker is at one and the same time producer 
and product of the hack, and emerges as a singularity that is 
the memory of the hack as process. 

Th e hack as pure hack, as pure production of production, [159I 
expresses as a singular instance the multiplicity of the nature 
out of which and within which it moves as an event. Out of 
the singular event of the hack comes the possibiUty of its 
representation, and out of its representation comes the pos- 
sibility of its repetition as production and its production as 

is the production of production. The hack pro- [1S8] 

J. he representation and repetition of the singular hack as a 
typical form of production takes place via its appropriation 


by and as property. The recuperation of the hack for pro- 
duction takes the form of its representation to and within 
the social as property. But the hack, in and of itself, is always 
distinct from its appropriation for commodity production. 
Production takes place on the basis of a prior hack that gives 
to production its formal, social, repeatable and reproducible 
form. Every production is a hack formalized and repeated 
on the basis of its representation as property. To produce is 
to repeat; to hack, to differentiate. If production is the hack 
captured by property and repeated, the hack is production 
produced as something other than itself. 

[161] Production transforms nature into objective and subjective 
elements that form an ensemble, in which a second nature 
emerges. This second nature consists of a sociality of ob- 
jects and subjects that may enter into relations of produc- 
tion for the further, quantitative, development as second na- 
ture. The appearance of a distinction between the natural 
and the social, the objective and the subjective, is what pro- 
duction based on property produces and reproduces as ab- 

[162] Th e qualitative transformation of second nature requires 
the production of production, or the intervention of the 
hack. The degree of dynamism or openness of a state is di- 
rectly proportional to its capacity to hack. The hack over- 
comes the distinction between object and subject, the natu- 
ral and the social, opening a space for free production that is 
not marked in advance by the properties of commodifica- 
tion. The hack is at one and the same time the force that 
opens toward increasing the surplus, and something deeply 


threatening to any fixed, fast-frozen relations. Not many 
states can maintain conditions in which the hack thrives, 

even as they come to recognize its power. The hack always 
appears to policy makers as a problem, even for the most 
abstract of states. 

A. state that develops the hack as a form of intellectual [163] 
property will at one and the same time experience rapid 
growth in its productive capacity, but also in its qualitative 
capacity for transformation and differentiation. Such a state 
develops second nature to its Umit, but contains within itself 
the seeds of its own overcoming, once the hack frees itself 
from property's artifice of limits and limits of artifice. This 
is the endless anxiety of the vectoral class: that the very vir- 
tuality they depend on, that uncanny capacity of the hacker 
class to mint new properties for commodification, threatens 
to hack into existence new forms of production beyond 
commodification, beyond class rule. 

e hack produces both a useful and a useless surplus. The [161^1 
useful surplus goes into expanding the realm of freedom 
wrested from necessity. The useless surplus is the surplus of 
freedom itself, the margin of free production unconstrained 
by production for necessity. As the surplus in general ex- 
pands, so too does the possibility of expanding its useless 
portion, out of which the possibility of hacking beyond the 
existing forms of property will arise. 

Ihe production of a surplus creates the possibility of the [1651 
expansion of freedom from necessity. Marx: "The true 
realm of freedom, the development of human powers as an 


end in itself, begins beyond it, though it can only flourish 
with this realm of necessity as its basis."* But in class society, 
the production of a surplus also creates new necessities. 
Surplus producing societies may be free societies, or they 
may be subject to domination by a ruling class or coalition 
of ruling classes. What calls for explanation are the means 
by which successive ruling classes capture the surplus and 
turn it away from free production, and toward the reproduc- 
tion and repetition of class rule. 

Class domination takes the form of the capture of the pro- 
ductive potential of society and its hamessing to the produc- 
tion, not of liberty, but of class domination itself The ruling 
class subordinates the hack to forms of production that ad- 
vance class power, and the suppression or marginalisation of 
other forms of hacking. 

UVhen the pastoralist class dominates, it is indifferent to 
any hack that develops non-agricultural production. Produc- 
tion remains land based and dedicated to the valorization of 
land. When the capitalist class dominates, it frees the hack 
for the production of new forms of useful production, but 
it subordinates the hack to the accumulation of capital. 
Hacking that leads to the production of new types of con- 
sumable object and consuming subject are the only kind not 
marginalized. So while the capitalist class provides resources 
and encouragement for the nascent hacker class, it is under 
the condition of subordination to commodification. When 
the vectoralist class dominates, it frees the hack for the pro- 
duction of many kinds of useless production, and thus is of- 
ten seen as an ally of the hacker class. The vectoralist class 
act only out of self-interest, for they extract their margin 


from the commodification, not just of production, but of 
the production of production. Their goal is the commodi- 
fication of the hack itself. 

U nder pastoralist or capitalist rule, the free and useless [168I 
hack is suppressed or marginalized, but otherwise retains its 
own gift economy. Under vectoraUst rule, the hack is ac- 
tively encouraged and courted, but only under the sign of 
commodified production. For the hacker, the tragedy of the 
former is to be neglected, of the latter, not to be neglected. 

in its pastoralist, capitaUst or vectoraUst phases, [1691 

commodity production stages again and again a struggle 
within its ruling class between that fraction which owns the 
means of production directly and that fraction which can 
control it indirectly through the accumulation of money with 
which to finance it. The power of finance is an abstract and 
abstracting power, quantifying and objectifying the world, 
directing resources from one development to another with 
increasing speed. The development of finance is inseparable 
from the development of the vector of telesthesia, which 
frees flows of quantitative and qualitative information from 
any specific location. Finance is that aspect of the develop- 
ment of the vector that represents its objectifying power in 
the world. But while finance acquires ever-greater velocity 
and viscosity as the vector develops, it always depends on 
finding a productive outlet for its investments. If the ruling 
class is a vampire, finance is the vampire's vampire. 

rfoduction produces not only the object as commodity, but [1701 
also the subject who appears as its consumer, even though it 
is actually its producer. Under vectoraUst rule, society be- 


comes indeed a "social factory" which makes subjects as 
much as objects out of the transformation of nature into 
second nature. "Laboring processes have moved outside the 
factory walls to invest the entire society."* The capitalist 
class profits from the producing class as producer of objects. 
The vectoralist class profits from the producing class as con- 
sumer of its own subjectivity in commodified form. 

The producers of commodities, be they farmers tuming 
the earth, or workers tuming the lathe or the page, are 
themselves all products of production. As the production of 
objects becomes complex and manifold, so too does subjec- 
tivity. Lukacs: "This fragmentation of the object of produc- 
tion necessarily entails the fragmentation of its subject. In 
consequence of the rationalization of the work-process the 
human qualities and idiosyncrasies of the worker appear in- 
creasingly as mere sources of error."* As the work process 
extends beyond the factory to the whole of life, so too does 
this production of the fragmented subject. Whole new in- 
dustries then arise promising therapies and diversions and 
miracle cures to make this aberrant subject whole again, 
including political miracle cures promising to reunite the 
subject within its envelope by abolishing the vectoral com- 
plexities of production. Hacking cannot be a return to this 
imaginary wholeness of being, but it can open toward the 
becoming of the virtual. 

Jtroduction that produces subjects as if they were objects 
produces also its own — temporary — return of a free produc- 
tivity beyond the vectoral subject. Since the great upheavals 
of 1989 in the south and the east, the world is periodically 


swept up in weird global media events, in which movements 
grasp their moment, taking over the streets, and through 
capture of symbolic space capture also moments of media 
time, in which to demonstrate to the world that another life 
is possible. Whether in Beijing or Berlin, Seattle or Seoul, 
Genoa or Johannesburg, the productive classes come mo- 
mentarily to the same conclusion. Guattari: "The only ac- 
ceptable finality for human activity is the production of a 
subjectivity that is auto-enriching its relation to the world in 
a continuous fashion."* What calls for a creative application 
of the hack is the production of new vectors along which 
the event may continue to unfold after its initial explosion 
into social space, and avoid capture by representation. 

What the farming, working and hacking classes have in [173I 
common is an interest in abstracting production firom its 
subordination to ruling classes who turn production into the 
production of new necessities, who wrest slavery from sur- 
plus. What the farming and working classes lack in a direct 
knowledge of free production the hacking class has from di- 
rect experience. What the hacking class lacks is the depths 
of an historic class memory of revolt against alienated 
production. This the farming and working classes have in 

Having produced the surplus out of which firee productiv- [lyltl 
ity may yet be hacked, it remains only to combine the objec- 
tive existence of the working and farming classes with the 
subjective capacity of the hacker class to produce produc- 
tion as free production. The elements of a free productivity 
exist already in an atomized form, in the productive classes. 


What remains is the release of its virtuality. The vectoralist 
class knows this, and does its best to reduce productivity to 
property, information to communication, expression to rep- 
resentation, nature to necessity. 

e vectorahst class puts its snout into the trough of the 
surplus on the basis of an ever more abstract, and hence 

more flexible, form of property than the pastoralist or cap- 
italist class. Zizek: "the thing can only survive as its own ex- 
cess."* But property also presents it with a problem that 
threatens its existence. So-called intellectual property is 
property that not merely has a separate legal existence to 
other property, but is different in kind. Land need only oc- 
cupy different space to other land, capital's property likewise 
need only be distinct in space and time. The vectoralist class 
depends on the hacker class to produce the qualitative differ- 
ences of intellectual property that it comes directly to own, 
and indirectly to profit by, and the owner of the vectors of 
its distribution. It depends on the very class capable of hack- 
ing into actuality the very virtuality it must control to sur- 


Jtroperty is theft!" as Proudhon says.* It is theft abstracted, [176] 
the theft of nature from itself, by collective social labor, con- 
strained within the property form. Property is not naturally 
occurring. It is not a natural right but an historical product, 
product of a powerful hack of ambivalent consequences. To 
make something property is to separate it from a contin- 
uum, to mark it or bound it, to represent it as something 
finite. At the same time, making something as property con- 
nects it, via a representation of it as a separate and finite ob- 
ject, to the subject who owns it. What is cut from one pro- 
cess joins another process, what was nature becomes second 

Iroperty founds bourgeois subjectivity, the subjectivity of [177I 
the owner. But it also founds subaltern subjectivity, the sub- 
jectivity of the non-owner. Property founds subjectivity as 
the relation between possession and nonpossession. Prop- 
erty forms the logic of self-interest within the envelope of 
the subject just as it forms the logic of class interest within 
the envelope of the state. 

When a relation is produced as a relation of property, then 
the things designated within that relation become compara- 
ble as if in the same terms and on the same plane. Property 



is the syntax of an abstract plane upon which all things may 
be things with one quality in common, the quality of prop- 
erty. This abstraction, in which things are detached from 
their expression, represented as objects, and attached via 
their representations to a new expression, makes the world 
over in its image, as a world made for and by property. It ap- 
pears as if property forms the ways and means of nature it- 
self, when it is merely the ways and means of the second na- 
ture of class rule. 

[1791 Traditional property forms are local and contingent. Mod- 
em, or vectoral property is abstract and universal. With the 
demise of feudalism property becomes an abstract relation, 
and the conflict property generates also becomes abstract. It 
becomes class conflict. Owners of property arise, and range 
their interests against non-owners. As the abstract property 
form evolves to incorporate first land, then capital, then in- 
formation, both owners and non-owners are brought face to 
face with the possibilities of class alliance as well as conflict. 
But just as property cuts through other stakes in conflict, so 
too does ownership or non-ownership of private property 
abstract and simplify the grounds of conflict, in the form of 
the contention between the owning and non-owning classes. 

[160] Th e conflicts upon which the development of the vectoral 
world hinges become conflicts over property, and thus class 
conflict: Conflict over the form of property, the ownership 
of property, over the surplus produced via property, over the 
limits to the property relation per se. The division of prop- 
erty, the abstraction of things as property, produces conflict 
by producing the separation of subjects and objects, and as- 


signing objects to some subjects over others, and hence the 
separation of one expression of subjectivity from another. 
Identity is the subject representing itself to itself as the prop- 
erties it desires but lacks. 

Property comes in many forms, and there are antagonisms [i8il 
between these forms, and yet one form of property may be 
exchanged for another, as all forms of property belong to 
the same abstract plane. Vectoral property is a plane on 
which the object confronts those subjects either belonging 
to, or excluded from, its possession. Conflict between classes 
becomes the struggle to transform one form of property 
into another. The ruling classes fight to turn all property 
from which they might extract a surplus into private prop- 
erty. The productive classes struggle to collectivize the prop- 
erty upon which the reproduction of their existence de- 
pends, via the state. The ruling classes then struggle again to 
privatize this sodal component of property. "Liberty" and 
"Efficiency" versus "Justice" and "Security" becomes the 
form in which the class struggle represents itself as a strug- 
gle over the merits of rival kinds of property. Only in vec- 
toral society are there riots over pension plans. 

Ihe conflict between private and public property advances [1821 
into each domain that property claims as its own. As prop- 
erty claims more and more of the world, more and more of 
the world construes its interests and being in terms of prop- 
erty. The struggle over property goes to first one class or 
class alliance then the other, but property is only entrenched 
as the form in which the struggle is conducted. As property 
itself becomes more and more abstract, so too does the em- 

bedding of history in the property form and of the property 
form in history. 

-L/and is the primary form of property. The privatization of 
land that is a productive asset as property gives rise to a 
class of interest among its owners. These owners are the 
pastoralist class. Pastoralists acquire land as private property 
through the forced dispossession of peasants who tradition- 
ally share a portion of the commons. These peasants, who 
once enjoyed reciprocal rights with their feudal lords, find 
themselves "firee" — from any right at aU. They are free to be 
exploited as farmers, but also find themselves in many parts 
of the world violently expropriated, enslaved, indentured — 

Ihe exploitation of the landless farmer is a crude, violent 
and wasteful business, when the farmer is not given incen- 
tive to work land efficiently. But when the farmer has an in- 
terest in productivity, necessitated by one property relation 
or another, but most usually as a freeholder who must pay 
the pastoralist rent, then the increasing extraction of a sur- 
plus is possible. This is the surplus on the back of which the 
history of all other productions takes place. 

The instrument of rent puts land into play as a form of 
property that has a degree of abstraction inherent in it. All 
land becomes comparable on the basis of this abstract plane 
of property. However, land is in more or less fixed supply, 
and by definition is fixed in place, so the abstracting of 
land as property is limited. Land is a form of property par- 
ticularly subject to the formation of monopoly. The owners 
of the best lands face no effective competition, land be- 


ing ultimately in fixed supply. They gradually extend their 
ownership, and thus their ability to monopolize the surplus 
through the extraction of rents, if not held in check by re- 
sort to the powers of the state by other classes. 

Capital is the secondary form of property. The privatization [i86l 
of productive assets in the form of tools and machines and 
also of working materials gives rise to a class of interest 
among its owners, the capitalist class. Dispossessed peasants, 
with nothing to sell but their capacity to work, create this 
vast stock of capital as private property for the capitalist 
class, and in so doing create a power over and against them- 
selves. They are paid in wages, but the return that accrues to 
the owners of capital as property is called profit. 

Ihe instrument of profit puts capital into play as a form of [1871 
property that has a greater degree of abstraction inherent in 
it than that of land. AU physical resources now become 
comparable on the basis of this abstract plane of property. 
However, capital, unlike land, is not in fixed supply or dispo- 
sition. It can be made and remade, moved, aggregated, dis- 
persed. A much greater degree of potential can be released 
from the world as a productive resource once the abstract 
plane of property includes both land and capital. Where the 
value of land arises in part out of natural scarcity, the scar- 
city of things made by productive industry requires the ab- 
straction of property as an artifice to maintain and repro- 
duce scarcity. The possibility of revolt against scarcity arises 
for the first time at this point in the abstraction of property. 

Capital as property also gives rise to a class interest among [188I 
its owners, sometimes opposed, sometimes allied, to that of 

pastoralists. Capital threw its political energies into the over- 
throw of the patchwork feudal class relations, but also found 
itself sometimes opposed to the pastoralist class that consol- 
idated the feudal property system into the abstraction of 
land. What capital opposed was the pastoralist ability to ex- 
ploit its monopoly over land rent to secure the lion's share 
of the surplus. Capitalist and pastoralist interests struggle 
over the partition of the surplus between rent and profit. 
The pastoralist has the natural monopoly of land, but cap- 
ital usually prevails, as it has a greater capacity for abstrac- 

History makes a qualitative leap when the capitalist class 
liberates itself from the fetter of the pastoralist interest. 
The capitalist class recognizes the value of the hack in the 
abstract, whereas the pastoralists were slow to appreciate 
the productivity that can flow from the application of ab- 
straction to the production process. Under the influence of 
capital, the state sanctions nascent forms of intellectual 
property, such as patents and copyrights, that secure an inde- 
pendent existence for hackers as a class, and a flow of inno- 
vations in culture and science from which history issues. 
Capital represents private property to itself as if it is natural, 
but comes to appreciate the artificial extension of property 
into new, productive forms under the impact of the hack. 

J-nformation, once it becomes a form of property, develops 
beyond a mere support for capital and for a pastoralist class 
belatedly aware of the value of increased productivity for its 
rent rolls. It becomes the basis of a form of accumulation in 
its own right. Just as farmers and workers find themselves 


confronting a class owning the means of production, so too 
hackers find themsehres confronting a new class of owners, 
in this case of the means of producing, storing and distribut- 
ing information — the vectoraHst class. The vectoraHst class 
struggles first to establish its monopoly over information — a 
far more abstract form of property than land or capital — 
and then to establish its power over the other ruling classes. 
It secures as much of the surplus as it can as margin — the re- 
turn on ownership of information — at the expense of profit 
and rent. 

from the current stage of historical development, [191I 

each of these ruling classes appears to develop out of the 
productivity of the hack. The pastoralist class develops out 
of the productivity of private land ownership, a legal hack. 
The capitalist class develops out of the productivity, not just 
of private property, but of technical innovations in power 
and machinery. The vectoraHst class develops out of further 
technical innovations in communication and control. Each 
in turn competes with its predecessor. Each competes for 
the capacity to extract as much of the surplus of total pro- 
ductivity as possible for its own accumulation. Each strug- 
gles with the productive classes over the disposition of the 
surplus. But that there is an ever-expanding surplus to strug- 
gle over is the product of the application of the hacker's ab- 
straction to the invention of new forms of production, or 
new desires for consumption, all within the framework of 

Ih ose dispossessed by the capture of a resource by prop- [192I 
erty come to conceive of their interests in terms of prop- 


erty. They may struggle individually to become owners of 
it, or they may struggle collectively to reappropriate a por- 
tion of it. Either way, property becomes the stake in the 
struggle for the producing classes as much as for the prop- 
erty owning classes. 

struggle between possessors defending or extending the 
claim of private property, and the dispossessed, who strug- 
gle to extend or defend public property. Farmers struggle 
against their landlessness. Workers struggle against their dis- 
possession, to claim a social wage. Hackers struggle to so- 
cialize a portion of the information stocks, flows and vec- 
tors on which the hack depends. 

Th e hacker class, which has some sliver of ownership con- 
ferred on it by the instrument of intellectual property, finds 
its rights challenged again and again by vectoralist interests. 
Hackers, like farmers and workers before them, find that 
their ownership of the immediate tools of production is 
compromised both by the market power of the possessing 
class confi-onting them, but also by the influence that class 
can have over the state's definition of the representations of 
property. Thus hackers as individuals are obliged to sell out 
their interests, and hackers as a class find their property 
rights diminished. 

[19SI Hackers must calculate their interests not as owners, but 
as producers, for this is what distinguishes them from the 
vectoraUst class. Hackers do not merely own, and profit by 
owning information. They produce new information, and as 
producers need access to it ft'ee ft'om the absolute domina- 


appear as domains of 


tion of the commodity fonii. If what defines the activity of 
hacking is that it is a free productivity, an expression of the 
virtuality of nature, then its subjection to private property 
and the commodity form is a fetter upon it. "When the 
meaning of a string of characters can be bought and locked 
into place this is the thermodynamics of language reduced 
to a single cryogenic chamber."* 

at hackers as a class have an interest in information as [1961 
private property can blind the hacker class to the dangers of 
too strong an insistence on the protection of that property. 
Any small gain the hacker gets from the privatization of in- 
formation is compromised by the steady accumulation of 
the means of realizing its value in the hands of the vector- 
alist class. Since information is crucial to the hack itself, 
the privatization of information is not in the interests of 
the hacker class. To maintain their autonomy, hackers need 
some means of extracting an income from the hack, and 
thus from some limited protection of their rights. Since in- 
formation is an input as well as an output of the hack, this 
interest has to be balanced against a larger interest in the 
free distribution of all information. In the short term, some 
form of intellectual property may secure some autonomy 
for the hacker class from the vectoralist class, but in the long 
term, the hacker class realizes its virtuality through the abo- 
lition of intellectual property as a fetter on the hack itself. 
The hacker class frees the hack by hacking class itself, realiz- 
ing itself by abolishing itself 

UVhere the farmer suffered the enclosure of the pastoral [197I 
commons, the hacker must resist the enclosure of the infor- 
mation commons. Where workers struggled to make public 


some portion of the surplus as social security, so too hackers 
must define a portion of the surplus as cultural and scien- 
tific security. Hacking as a pure, free experimental activity 
must be free from any constraint that is not self imposed. 
Only out of its liberty will it hack the means of producing a 
surplus of liberty and liberty as a surplus. But Uke the farm- 
ers' and workers' movements, hackers may decide to pursue 
a radical or reformist politics, and will redefine what is radi- 
cal and what is reformist as it reclaims the common interest 
in what in the jargon of the vectoraUst class is merely "intel- 
lectual property" 

[1981 Vl^thout an information commons, all classes become cap- 
tives of the vectoraUst privatization of education. This is an 
interest the hacker shares with farmers and workers, who 
demand the public provision of education. Hackers, farmers 
and workers also have a common interest in an information 
commons with which to maintain a vigilant eye on the 
state, which is all too often subject to ruling class capture. 
Even the pastoralist and capitalist classes can sometimes be 
aUies in limiting the subjection of information by the vec- 
toraUst class to commodification. The vectoraUst interest 
grasps at a monopoly power over information, and puts 
monopolizing the surplus ahead of the expansion of the 
surplus. What is "efficient" for the vectoraUst class may im- 
pede the development of the surplus, and thus the virtuaUty 
of history. 

[1991 Th e hacker class must think tactically about property, bal- 
ancing pubUc and private property in the scales of class 
interest and class aUiance, but in the knowledge that the 
privatization of information is not in its long term interest 


as a class. Part of its strategy may be the enlistment of other 
classes in an alliance for the public production of informa- 
tion. But another strategy may be to extend another kind of 
property altogether — the property that is the gift. 

JDoth the private and public forms of property are property [200I 
in which subjects confront objects as buyers and sellers, via 
the quantitative medium of money. Even public property 
does not alter this quantification. The commodity economy, 
be it public or private, commodifies its subjects as well as its 
objects and sets a limit on the virtuaUty of nature. 

Rivate property arose in opposition not only to feudal [201I 
property, but also to traditional forms of the gift economy, 
which are a fetter to the increased productivity of the com- 
modity economy. Money is the medium through which 
land, capital, information and labor all confront each other 
as abstract entities, reduced to an abstract plane of measure- 
ment. Qualitative exchange is superseded by quantified, 
monetized exchange. The gift as property is pure qualitative 
exchange. The gift becomes a marginal form of property, 
everywhere invaded by the commodity, and turned towards 
mere consumption. The gift is marginal, but nevertheless 
plays a vital role in cementing reciprocal and communal re- 
lations among people who otherwise can only confront each 
other as buyers and sellers of commodities. 

As production develops into its vectoralized form, the [zozl 
means appear for the renewal of the gift economy. The 
vectoral form of relation allows for an abstraction of quali- 
tative exchange that may become as vast and powerful as 
that of quantitative exchange. Everywhere that the vector 


reaches, it brings into the orbit of the commodity. But ev- 
erywhere the vector reaches, it also brings with it the possi- 
bility of the "opening of the dimension of the gift, its grace 
or beauty, between the precious and the gratis, between the 
unique and the ordinary"* 

[2031 Th e hacker class has a close affinity with the gift economy. 
The hacker struggles to produce a subjectivity that is quali- 
tative and singular, in part through the act of the hack itself, 
but only in part. The hack reveals to the hacker the qualita- 
tive, open and virtual dimension of the hacker's immersion 
in nature, but it does not reveal the hacker as hacker to 
other hackers, or to the world. The hack reveals the non- 
subjective surplus of subjectivity, just as it reveals the non- 
objective surplus of objectivity. 

[201^1 The gift, as a qualitative exchange, creates singular pro- 
ducers and production as singularity. The gift expresses the 
virtuality of the production of production, whereas com- 
modified property represents the producer as an object, a 
quantifiable commodity like any other, of relative value 
only. The gift of information need not give rise to conflict 
over information as property, for information need not suf- 
fer the artifice of scarcity. 

[2051 Th e gift relation of vectoralized information makes possi- 
ble, for the first time since the dawn of the vectoral world, a 
new abstraction of nature. Nature need not be objectified. It 
need not appear as something separate from its subjects in 
a relationship of ownership or non-ownership. Nature ap- 
pears in its qualitative, rather than quantitative aspect. The 


unsustainable paradox of limitless productivity based on 
scarcity, both natural and unnatural, need not run on and 

on to its seemingly inevitable fall. Within the gift relation, 
nature appears as endlessly productive in its differences, 
in its qualitative, not its quantitative aspect. The possibility 
emerges of putting nature's finite resources to w^ork for the 
virtuaUty of difference, rather than for objectification and 
quantification. The latter finally appear as partial abstrac- 
tions, as falling short of the abstraction of abstraction. If 
property is theft, then it is theft, in the first instance, from 
nature. The gift has the capacity to return nature as itself to 

e vectoralist class contributes, unwittingly, to the devel- [206l 
opment of the vectoral world within which the gift as the 
limit to property could return, but soon recognizes its error. 
As the vectoral economy develops, less and less of it takes 
the form of a public space of open and free gift exchange, 
and more and more of it takes the form of commodified 
production for private sale. The vectoralist class can grudg- 
ingly accommodate some margin of public information, as 
the price it pays to the state for the furtherance of its main 
interests. But the vectoralist class quite rightly sees in the 
gift a challenge not just to its profits but to its very exis- 
tence. The gift economy is the virtual proof for the parasitic 
and superfluous nature of vectoraUsts as a class. 


e politics of information, the history of knowledge, ad- [207I 
vance not through a critical negation of false representa- 
tions but a positive hacking of the virtuality of expression. 
Representation always mimics but is less than what it repre- 
sents; expression always differs from but exceeds the raw 
material of its production. 

representation is false. A likeness differs of necessity [208l 
from what it represents. If it did not, it would be what it rep- 
resents, and thus not a representation. The only truly false 
representation is the beUef in the possibility of true repre- 

froperty, a mere representation, installs itself in the world, [209] 
falsifying the real. When the powers of the false conspire to 
produce the real, then hacking reality is a matter of using 
the real powers of the false to produce the false as the real 
power. This is the power of falsifying property's verification 
of its own false veracity, proliferating new possibilities by 
displacing the false necessity of the world. 

It is critique itself that is the problem, not the solution. Cri- [210I 
tique is a police action in representation, of service only to 


the maintenance of the value of property through the estab- 
lishment of its value. The problem is always to enter on an- 
other kind of production altogether, the production of the 
virtual, not the critical. The one role of critique is to critique 
criticism itself, and thus open the space for affirmation. 

e critique of representation always maintains an artificial 
scarcity of "true" interpretation. Or, what is no better, it 
maintains an artificial scarcity of "true" interpreters, owners 
of the method, who are licensed by the zero sum game of 
critique and counter critique to peddle, if not true represen- 
tations, then at least the true method for deconstructing 
false ones. "Theorists begin as authors and end up as author- 
ities."* This fits perfectly with the domination of education 
by the vectoral class, which seeks scarcity and prestige from 
this branch of cultural production, a premium product for 
the most sensitive subjects. Critical theory becomes hypo- 
critical theory. 

What a politics of information can affirm is the virtuaUty of 
expression. The inexhaustible surplus of expression is that 
aspect of information upon which the class interest of hack- 
ers depends. Hacking brings into existence the multiplicity 
of all codes, be they natural or social, programmed or po- 
etic, logical or analogical, anal or oral, aural or visual. But it 
is the act of hacking that composes, at one and the same 
time, the hacker and the hack. Hacking recognizes no ar- 
tificial scarcity, no official licence, no credentialing police 
force other than that composed by the gift relation among 
hackers themselves. 


critique of the politics of representation is at the same [213I 
time the critique of representation as politics. No one is au- 
thorized to speak on behalf of constituencies as properties 
or on the properties of constituencies. Even this manifesto, 
which invokes a collective name, does so without claiming 
or seeking authorization, and offers for agreement only the 
gift of its own possibility. 

Within the envelope of the state, competing forces struggle [21U 
to monopolize the representation of its majority. Represen- 
tative politics pits one representation in opposition to an- 
other, verifying one by the critique of the other. Each strug- 
gles to claim subjects as subjects, enclosing the envelope of 
the subject within that of the state. 

Representative politics takes place on the basis of the [21S] 
charge of false representation. An expressive politics accepts 
the falseness of expression as part of the coming into being 
of a class as an interest. Classes come into being as classes 
for themselves by expressing themselves, differing from 
themselves, and overcoming their own expressions. A class 
is embodied in all its expressions, no matter how multiple. 

e ruling classes maintain a space of expression for desire, [2161 
at the same time as forcing representation on the subaltern 
classes. The ruling power knows itself to be nothing but its 
expression and the overcoming of its expression. And thus it 
overcomes itself, splitting and mutating and transforming 
itself from a pastoralist to a capitalist to a vectoralist expres- 
sion. Each expression furthers in its difference the abstrac- 


tion of property that generates class as a bifurcation of dif- 
ferences, of possession and nonpossession. The ruling class, 
in each of its mutations, needs the producing classes only 
for the purposes of exploitation, for the extraction of the 
surplus. It has no need of the recognition of itself as itself It 
has need only of the vector along which it mutates and pul- 
sates. The producing classes, likewise, gain nothing from the 
recognition foisted on them in their struggle with their mas- 
ters, which serves only to keep them in their place. 

[2171 Th e productive classes get caught up in their own expres- 
sions as if they were representations, making the representa- 
tion the test of the truth of its own existence, rather than 
vice versa. Or worse, the productive classes get caught up in 
representations that have nothing to do with class interest. 
They get caught up in nationalism, racism, generationalism, 
various bigotries. There is no representation that confers on 
the producing classes an identity. There is nothing around 
which its multiplicities can unite. There is only the abstrac- 
tion of property that produces a bifurcated multiplicity, 
divided between owning and nonowning classes. It is the 
abstraction itself that must be transformed, not the repre- 
sentations that it foists upon its subaltern subjects as nega- 
tive identity, as a lack of possession. 

[2181 Even when representations serve a useful function, in iden- 
tifying nonclass forms of oppression or exploitation, they 
stiU become means of oppression themselves. They become 
the means by which those best able to be the object of the 
representation refuse recognition to those less able to iden- 


tify with it. The state becomes the referee of the referents, 
pitting claimants against each other, while the ruling classes 
escape representation and fulfil their desire as the plenitude 
of possession. 

politics of representation is always the politics of the [2i91 
state. The state is nothing but the policing of representa- 
tion's adequacy to the body of what it represents. That this 
politics is always only partially applied, that only some are 
found guilty of misrepresentation, is the injustice of any re- 
gime based in the first place on representation. A politics of 
expression, on the other hand, is a politics of indifference to 
the threat and counterthreat of exposing nonconformity be- 
tween sign and referent. Benjamin: "The exclusion of vio- 
lence in principle is quite expUcitly demonstrable by one sig- 
nificant factor: there is no sanction for lying."* 

Even in its most radical form, the politics of representation [2201 
always presupposes an ideal state that would act as guaran- 
tor of its chosen representations. It yearns for a state that 
would recognize this oppressed subject or that, but which is 
nevertheless still a desire for a state, and a state that, in the 
process, is not challenged as the enforcer of class interest, 
but is accepted as the judge of representation. 

always, what escapes effective counter in this imagi- [221I 
nary, enlightened state is the power of the ruling classes, 
which have no need for representation, which dominate 
through owning and controlling production, including the 
production of representation. What calls to be hacked is not 


the representations of the state, but the class rule based on 
an exploitative bifurcation of expression into lack and pleni- 

And always, what is excluded even from this enlightened, 
imaginary state, would be those who refuse representation, 
namely, the hacker class as a class. To hack is to refuse repre- 
sentation, to make matters express themselves otherwise. 
To hack is always to produce the odd difference in the pro- 
duction of information. To hack is to trouble the object or 
the subject, by transforming in some way the very process 
of production by which objects and subjects come into be- 
ing and recognize each other by their representations. The 
hack touches the unrepresentable, the real. 

A. politics that embraces its existence as expression, as af- 
firmative difference, is the politics that can escape the state. 
To refuse, or ignore, or plagiarize representation, to re- 
nounce its properties, to deny it what it claims as its due, is 
to begin a politics, not of the state, but of statelessness. This 
might be a politics that refuses the state's authority to au- 
thorize what is a valued statement and what isn't. Lau- 
treamont: "Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it."* Or 
rather: Progress is possible, plagiarism implies it. 

Ihe politics of expression outside the state is always tem- 
porary, always becoming something other. It can never 
claim to be true to itself. Any stateless expression may yet 
be captured by the authorized police of representation, as- 
signed a value, and made subject to scarcity, and to com- 


modification. This is the fate of any and every hack that 
comes to be valued as useful. 

Even useless hacks may come, perversely enough, to be [2251 
valued for the purity of their uselessness. There is nothing 
that can't be valued as a representation. There is nothing 
that can't be critiqued, and thereby valued anyway, by virtue 
of the attention paid to its properties. The hack is driven 
into history by its condition of existence — expression — that 
calls for the renewal of difference. 

Everywhere, dissatisfaction with representations is spread- [226] 
ing. Sometimes it's a matter of sharing a few megabytes, 
sometimes of breaking a few shop windows. But this dissat- 
isfaction does not always rise above a critique that puts re- 
volt squarely in the hands of some representative or other, 
offering only another state as an altemative — even if only a 
Utopian one. 

Violence against the state, which rarely amounts to more [227I 
than throwing rocks at its police, is merely the desire for the 
state expressed in its masochistic form. Where some call for 
a state that embraces their representation, others call for a 
state that beats them up. Neither is a politics that escapes 
the desire cultivated within the subject by the educational 
apparatus — the state of desire that is merely desire for the 

An expressive politics has nothing to fear from the speed of [228I 
the vector. Expression is an event traversing space and time. 


and quickly finds that the vector of telesthesia affords an ex- 
cellent expander and extender of the space and time within 
which expression can transform experience and release the 
virtual. Representation always lags behind the event, at least 
at the start, but soon produces the narratives and images 
with which to contain and conform the event to a mere rep- 
etition, denying to the event its singularity. It is not that 
"once something extra-media is exposed to the media, it 
turns into something else."* It is that once representation 
finally overtakes expression within the vector, the event, in 
its singularity, is over. Whatever new space and time it 
hacked becomes a resource for future events in the endless 
festival of expression. 

[2291 Even at its best, in its most abstract form, on its best behav- 
ior, the color blind, gender neutral, multicultural state just 
hands the value of representation over to objectification. 
Rather than recognizing or failing to recognize representa- 
tions of the subject, the state validates all representations 
that take a commodity form. While this is progress, particu- 
larly for those formerly oppressed by the state's failure to 
recognize as legitimate their properties, it stops short at the 
recognition of expressions of subjectivity that refuse the 
objectification in the commodity form and seek instead to 
become something other than a representation that the state 
can recognize and the market can value. 

[230] Sometimes what is demanded of the politics of representa- 
tion is that it recognize a new subject. Minorities of race, 
gender, sexuality — all demand the right to representation. 
But soon enough they discover the cost. They must now be- 


come agents of the state, they must police the meaning of 
their own representation, and police the adherence of their 
members to it. 

But there is something else, something always hovering on [231I 
the horizon of the representable. There is a politics of the 
unrepresentable, a politics of the presentation of the non- 
negotiable demand. This is politics as the refusal of repre- 
sentation itself, not the politics of refusing this or that repre- 
sentation. A politics that, while abstract, is not Utopian. A 
politics that is atopian in its refusal of the space of repre- 
sentation, in its hewing toward the displacements of expres- 
sion. A politics that is "therefore undetectable, not identi- 
fiable, invisible not recognizable, stealthy not pubHc."* 

In its infinite and limitless demand, a politics of expression [2321 
may even be the best way of extracting concessions in the 
class conflict, precisely through its refusal to put a name — or 
a price — on what revolt desires. See what goodies they will 
offer when those who demand do not name their demand 
or even name themselves, but practice politics itself as a 
kind of hack. In the politics of expression, a hack may deign 
to unmask itself, to acquiesce to representation, only long 
enough to strike a bargain and move on. A politics that 
reveals itself as anything but pure expression only long 
enough to keep the meaning police guessing. Lovink: "Here 
comes the new desire."* 


e revolts circa 1989 are the signal events of our time. In [233I 
the east and in the south, the productive classes rose up 
against all forms of tyranny and boredom. Farmers and 
workers — workers in both material and immaterial trades — 
all formed alliances against the most oppressive and tedious 
forms of the state. Mixed in amongst them were hackers, 
hackers of all kinds, including not a few, borne of the strug- 
gle, who are hackers of politics itself. 

In Beijing and Berlin, Manila and Prague, Seoul and Johan- [23m 
nesburg, alliances rose up that could turn the vectoral flows 
of information against states all too used to poUcing repre- 
sentations by cracking the heads that disputed them. The 
cracking of heads confironted the hacking of codes, and the 
hack won out. 

If only for the moment. What the revolts of 1989 achieved [2351 
was the overthrow of regimes so impervious to the recogni- 
tion of the value of the hack that they had starved not only 
their hackers but also their workers and farmers of any in- 
crease in the surplus. With their cronyism and kleptocracy, 
their bureaucracy and ideology, their police and spies, they 


starved even their pastoralists and capitalists of innovative 
transformation and growth. The revolt of 1989 put an end 
to all that. 

[2361 It did not succeed everjrwhere. In the four most populous 
states, in China, Russia, India and Indonesia, there was no 
successful break with the old order. India took a reactive 
turn toward spiritual nationalism. Russia sank in kleptoc- 
racy and control by the secret police. Indonesia saw a bold 
but fragile and incomplete democratic revolt. In China, the 
Goddess of Democracy stood briefly in Tiananmen Square, 
before becoming a global expression of a fugitive move- 

[2371 In the "frontline states" of the old cold war, the forces of 
revolt were most successful. In Taiwan, Korea, Thailand and 
the Philippines; in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, 
Hungary, Slovenia and the Baltic states, the forces of revolt 
pushed the old ruling classes toward a new state form, in 
which further movements toward abstraction at least have a 
fighting chance. 

[2381 In Latin America, the so-called "transition" produced 
mixed results, undermining authoritarian states, but also un- 
dermining the socialized property of the productive classes 
through privatization and "austerity" budgets. In the Middle 
East, the ruling classes mostly used the state as a bulwark 
against an opening to the world, at the price of increased re- 
pression and underdevelopment, or corruption and theft in 
those states where oil clouds the waters. In Africa, demo- 
cratic movements rarely made much headway against the 


tidal forces of ethnic division, that poisonous legacy of colo- 
nialism, or against the new colonialism of vectoral power. 
South Africa was a signal exception, and inspiration to the 

e revolts that group around that noisy year of 1989 [2391 
achieved mixed results. But they put the state on notice ev- 
erywhere that in the vectoral age, any state that cannot rec- 
ognize the value of the hack, that cannot incorporate trans- 
formation into its being, will soon be forced to find more 
and more extreme diversions for the desires of the produc- 
tive classes. 

e productive classes have seen what the world has to of- izko] 
fer, and they want it all. There is no stopping them. What- 
ever qualms the good people of the overdeveloped world 
may have about the bounty of the vector, the good Ufe of 
consumption and equivocal Uberty that everyone now sees 
courtesy of telesthesia, the rest of the world is coming to 
get it, ready or not. "Those who are against, while escaping 
firom the local and particular constraints of their human 
condition, must also continually attempt to construct a new 
body and a new life."* And not just any body — an abstract 
body, a body of expression. 

e revolts of 1989 overthrew boredom and necessity . . . [2l).il 
at least for a time. They put back on the world historical 

agenda the limitless demand for fi-ee expression ... at least 
for a time. They revealed the latent destiny of world history 
to express the pure virtuality of becoming ... at least for 
a time. But then new states cobbled themselves together 


claiming legitimaqr as representations of what revolt de- 
sired. Oh, what a time we had. 

Th e revolts of 1989 opened the portal to the virtual, but the 
states that regrouped around this opening soon closed it. 
They affirmed new theories of transformation, which were 
quickly rewritten as the end of history. What the revolts re- 
ally achieved was the making of the world safe for vectoral 
power. The opening was in the end a relative, not an abso- 
lute one. The failed state-capitalism of the east and klepto- 
capitalism of the south may have been overthrown by a lim- 
itless desire, but that desire soon had to confront the ac- 
tuality of becoming a free trade zone for an emerging global 
alliance of ruling classes, and a dumping ground for the con- 
sumable images of the vectoral economy. 

IzkdJ New circumstances call for new theories, and new prac- 
tices, but also for the cultivation of variants, alternatives, 
mutant strains. The revolts of 1989 may have flourished and 
withered, but are a seed stock for future movements. So 
long as there is a past, there is a future; so long as there is 
memory, there is possibility. Debord: "theories are made 
only to die in the war of time."* 

The so-called anti-globahzation protests from the late 90s 
on — Seatde, Genoa — are an offshoot of these fertile events 
of 1989, but an offshoot that does not know the current to 
which it truly belonged. This heterogeneous movement of 
revolt in the overdeveloped world intuits the rising vectoral 
power as a class enemy, but all too often it allowed itself to 
be captured by the partial and temporary interests of local 


capitalist and pastoralist classes. It did not quite grasp how 
to connect its desires to those of the underdeveloped world, 
to which in some ways it is an impediment. 

But this revolt is in its infancy. It has yet to discover the con- lzk5\ 
nection between its engine of limidess desire and free ex- 
pression, and the art of making tactical demands. It has yet 
to discover how and when, and in whose interest, to mask 
its faceless free expression with a representation of interests 
that corresponds to the broadest coalition of class forces for 
a free and just future. Or rather, to rediscover, as all this is 
already known in the secret history of revolt — that other 
knowledge and knowledge of the other. 

ere are two directions in politics, both of which can be [2it61 
found in the class struggle within nations and the imperial 
struggle between nations. One direction is the politics of the 
envelope, or the membrane. It seeks to shelter within an 
imagined past. It seeks to use national borders as a new 
wall, a screen behind which unlikely alliances might pro- 
tect their existing interests in the name of a glorious past. 
Deleuze: "Their method is to oppose movement."* The pol- 
itics it opposes is the poUtics of the vector. This other poli- 
tics seeks to accelerate toward an unknown future. It seeks 
to use international flows of information, trade or activism 
as the eclectic means for struggling for new sources of 
wealth or liberty that overcomes the limitations imposed by 
national or communal envelopes. 

Neither of these politics corresponds to the old notion of [aUTl 
a left or right, which the revolutions of 1989 have defini- 


tively overcome. Envelope politics brings together Luddite 
impulses from the left with racist and reactionary impulses 
from the right in an unholy alliance against new sources of 
power. Vectoral politics rarely takes the form of an alliance, 
but constitutes two parallel processes locked in a dialogue 
of mutual suspicion, in which the liberalizing forces of the 
right and the social justice and human rights forces of the 
left both seek non-national and transnational solutions to 
unblocking the system of power which still accumulates at 
the national level. 

Iz^S] Contrary to a popular myth, the revolts of 1989 dealt a 
blow to the right, not the left. The collapse of Stalinism re- 
moved the external force that kept the enveloping and vec- 
toral forces of the right together. The political forces of the 
right, which represent in their purest form the compromises 
acceptable to the ruling classes, have had to reassemble from 
the ruins of the cold war the elements of their alliance 
within which the more extreme expressions of populism, 
nationalism and racism can be tamed — but retained — in the 
service of the ruling class. 

The political forces of the left, which stretch wide to ac- 
commodate every interest the producing classes must em- 
brace to achieve some grasp upon state power, has experi- 
enced no such clarifying moment. The left does not yet 
know that it faces a choice between the blur of vectoral in- 
ternationalism and the Active identities of nationalism. It 
has not yet articulated an alternative global democracy that 
can secure popular support. It has not yet found the formula 
for containing and defusing jingoistic and regional partic- 
ularism. The left, when in power, zigzags anxiously between 


tactical concessions to one side or the other, whittling away 
its broad support from both ends at once. 

Globalism, as the transcendent power of the vectoralist [2S0I 
class over the world, is hardly a palatable option; but neither 
is conceding to the unjust demands of local and particular 
interest, which refuses the call of an abstract, global justice, 
and hunkers down behind the screen that surrounds the 
state. Since that screen is also the property of the vectoralist 
class, this is hardly an alternative, simply the same ends 
reached by means of the objectification of another desire. 
Either way, it's not much of a plan: accelerated progress into 
hell, or the permanent purgatory of arresting the current 
balance of injustice. 

J. here is a third politics, which stands outside the alliances [251I 
and compromises of the post-89 world. Where both enve- 
lope and vectoral politics are representative politics, which 
deal with aggregate party alliances and interests, this third 
politics is a stateless politics, which seeks escape from poli- 
tics as such. The third politics is a politics of the hack, in- 
venting relations outside of representation. Since represen- 
tations inevitably fail to live up to their promises in actuality, 
there's not much to lose from an opening towards politics 
beyond it. Rather than a representative politics, representing 
advocacy of movement or opposition to movement, there is 
an expressive politics that escapes representation. BUssett: 
"Do not advance the action according to a plan."* 

Representative politics is a politics that struggles to secure [2S2I 
for the classes allied in struggle command of property, be 

it public or private. Expressive politics seeks to undermine 
property itself. Expressive politics is not the struggle to col- 
lectivize property, for that is still a form of property. The 
coUectivist mode of state administered property was shown 
to be bankrupt by the revolutions of 1989, as was the klep- 
tocracy of the south, where state and private ruling interests 
were one and the same. Expressive politics is the struggle to 
free what can be free from both versions of the commodity 
form: its totalizing market form, and bureaucratic state 

What may be free from the commodity form altogether is 
not land, not capital, but information. All other forms of 
property are exclusive. The ownership by one excludes, by 
definition, the ownership by another. The class relation may 
be mitigated, but not overcome. The vectoraUst class sees in 
the development of vectoral means of production and distri- 
bution the ultimate means to commodify the globe through 
the commodification of information. But the hacker class 
can realize from the same historic opportunity that the 
means are at hand to decommodify information. Informa- 
tion is the gift that may be shared without diminishing any- 
thing but its scarcity. Information is that which can escape 
the commodity form altogether. Information escapes the 
commodity as history and history as commodification. It 
frees abstraction from its commodified phase. 

lalk of an end to information as property makes law- 
yers and liberals nervous. Lessig: "To question the scope of 
'property' is not to question property."* But why not? Why 
just a limited critique of a few vectoral monopolists — as if 


the cancer of commodification is restricted to monopoly. 
Perhaps, where information is concerned, the commodity 
form is the cancer and monopolies are merely walking dead. 

foUtics can become expressive only when it is a politics of [2551 
freeing the virtuality of information. In Uberating informa- 
tion from its objectification as a commodity, it liberates also 
the subjective force of expression. Subject and object meet 
each other outside of their mere lack of each other, by their 
desire merely for each other, by desire as managed by the 
state in the interests of maintaining the commodity form of 

Expressive politics becomes a viable politics only at the [2561 
moment when a class arises which can not only conceive of 
freedom from property as in its class interest, but can pro- 
pose to the producing classes that it is in the interests of the 
producing classes as a whole. That class is the hacker class, 
which invents the abstraction of the subject and of the ob- 
ject, in which both meet outside the constraint of scarcity 
and lack, and meet to affirm each other in new forms of ex- 
pression, rather than in the sad dance of unfulfilled lack. 

is expressive politics does not seek to overthrow the [2571 
state, or to reform its larger structures, or to preserve its 
structure so as to maintain an existing coalition of interests. 
It seeks to permeate existing states with a new state of exis- 
tence. It spreads the seeds of an alternative practice of ev- 
eryday life. 


e state is first and last an envelope, a permeable mem- [2581 
brane, a skin, within which wells an interiority. This inte- 
riority comes to know itself as its representation — as a 
unified, abstract but limited plane — distinct from what it ex- 
cludes as outside. But the state's enclosure and interiority is 
only made possible by the vector, which provides the mate- 
rial means for producing the internal consistency of its ab- 
stract plane. This same vector which makes possible the en- 
velope of the state is also the very thing that threatens to 
permeate it, opening holes in its enclosure that exceed the 
capacity of its representation as interiority to close. 

e vector comes first, and then the envelope; the state is [2591 
vectoral before it is "disciplinary." First comes the capacity 
to subordinate the particulars of space to the abstraction of 
the vector, producing a homogenous space, bounded only 
by the limits of the vector. Extensive space is the precondi- 
tion for intensive space, for the enclosing and monitoring of 
a world within, which may be classified and ordered. 

Ihe overdeveloped world becomes overdeveloped through 
its precocious capacity to project the vector across space, 
designating the underdeveloped world as one of objective 



and subjective resources for exploitation. The overdeveloped 
world protects itself within states that, at one and the same 
time, project a vector beyond, along which to draw re- 
sources, while limiting the capacity of the underdeveloped 
world to traffic along the same vector. The underdeveloped 
world acquires the envelope of the state reactively, as a pro- 
tection of sorts against the vector, but depends in turn on 
the vector to construct its own internal abstract space. The 
vector is the double bind that both seals the bounds of the 
state and steals away through its skin. 

[2611 It is the state that manages, records and verifies the repre- 
sentation of subjects and objects, citizens and their property. 
At the empty heart of the state, its camera obscura, is the 
primary act of violence by which it establishes the separa- 
tion of objects from subjects, and its own prerogative in po- 
licing the plane upon which they may meet. The vectoral 
state, which employs every technology for the refinement 
of this most abstract plane upon which objects and subjects 
meet, produces the most pervasive and subtle terrain of 
conflict and negotiation for the contending classes. The state 
brings classes into being as a representative politics that is 
also a politics of representation. All classes struggle or col- 
lude with each other directly, but their direct contact is 
partial and particular. It is their contact upon the plane 
of representation created by the state that is abstract and 

[2621 Th e state is not only a machine for defining forms of prop- 
erty and arbitrating competing claims to property, it also 
transfers property through taxation and transfer. Classes 


struggle over who is taxed and at what rate, and also over 
the transfer of tax revenue by the state to classes or class 
fractions. Once the productive classes succeed, even in part, 
in their struggle to socialize property through the state, the 
property owning classes seek to limit the state's redistribu- 
tive powers. 

e state constitutes the plane upon which classes come to [263I 
represent their interests as class interests, but also where 
classes seek to turn local and particular conflicts not of a 
class nature to their advantage. Through its disposition of 
the share of the surplus it appropriates as taxation, the state 
gives expression to existing interests. There may be repre- 
sentatives of collective regional interest, the interests of gen- 
erations or genders, ethnicities or industries. The state may 
also create interests through its transfers of socialized prop- 
erty, such as pensioners, civil servants or the military. Thus 
the state, besides constituting the plane of abstraction for 
class conflict, adds to it dimensions of possible conflict and 
alliance by providing resources and recognition for other in- 
terests and desires. Whatever desire exceeds or falls short of 
commodification seeks a home in the state. 

of these other representative interests have the power [26m 
to limit the capacity for action of the state, or even to thwart 
its capacity to function. Yet it is only the interests of classes 
that determine the positive dynamic of state and society. 
Other representations may capture the state, causing the 
state, in turn, to capture development and retard it. Only 
class interests prod and push the state toward the produc- 
tion of a surplus and the production of history. 


[26SI Jtls a class finds an abstraction that suits its interests, that 
presents a plane upon which to develop and turn the general 
development to its advantage, it seeks through the state to 
represent this interest as if it were the general interest, and 
to use the state to head off the development of abstractions 
that do not enhance and affirm its power. Through its ability 
to police representation, the state acts as a brake on new ex- 
pressions which fall outside what the state recognizes as licit 
relations between objects and subjects. When the state rec- 
ognizes intellectual property, it creates a plane upon which 
the vectoral class can develop as the leading class, the one in 
possession of the most abstract plane upon which objects 
and subjects may be brought together productively. At the 
same time, the state takes it upon itself to police the vector, 
to contain information within property, to halt any hack 
outside the class interest of the vectoral class. 

[2661 Th e vectoral class seeks to capture the state by depriving 
other classes of the free flow of information with which 
they may contest its representations of the collective inter- 
est. The vectoral class captures information flows within the 
commodity form and perverts the free flow of information. 
This deprives the hacker class of a considerable part of its 
capacity for free expression and forces it into a subordinate 
relation to the vectoraUst interest. It also deprives other 
classes of their means of contesting the grip on the state of 
the vectoral interest, and the representation of the vectoral 
interest as the general interest. 

[2671 The state polices the rights of subjects as well as the prop- 
erties of objects. The state may be an abstract state or it 
may be a particular state. A particular state is one in which 


some subjective representations have superior rights to oth- 
ers. While all states exclude some representations, and 
maintain their envelope through this capacity to exclude, 
the abstract state embraces the widest range of representa- 
tions as holding equally valid claims and does not question 
them as to their truth-value. The particular state arises out 
of the exploitation of non-class antagonisms for class ends. 
The ruling classes exploit ethnic, religious or gender differ- 
ences among the producing classes to divide and rule. This 
rule is purchased at the price of the suppression of some 
part of the productive capacity of the subordinate classes. 

e abstract state will always be the most just and efficient [26BI 
vehicle for managing representations, but there is always 
something that is beyond its ken. There is always some hack 
that eludes or escapes its representational net. The hacker 
interest always points beyond a given abstraction of the 
state. Only after the state has accepted without question the 
most obvious differences of race, gender, sexuality or faith 
is the hacker state even conceivable, as a space for expres- 
sion free from the sanction of the policing of representa- 
tion. But while there may be an interest for hackers in pre- 
ferring certain kinds of state to others, the state is stiU 
always a vehicle that is caught up in the violence of repre- 
sentation and counter representation, upon which flows of 
resource or liberty may hinge, but which is ultimately only 
in existence to help or hinder the establishment of a produc- 
tive relation between classes. 

Ihe vectoral class also presents itself as the advocate and [269] 
defender of the abstract state. The vectoral class is all for tol- 
erance and diversity, even affirmative action — so long as this 

applies only to representations. To the vectoral class, all rep- 
resentations ought to be free to find their value as objects of 
commodification; all subjects ought to be free to find the 
representations they want to value. To the vectoral class, the 
abstract state is the state best able to open the whole of cul- 
ture to commodification. But that is as far as it goes. The 
vectoral state is an abstract state, but not one that can look 
beyond a purely formal equality of representations toward 
an equal share of the surplus, let alone embrace a politics 
of expression beyond representation. The vectoral state en- 
courages diversity in the content of representations as a 
cover while abolishing diversity in the form of representa- 
tions. All information is to be subordinated to the private 
property form. 

Ihe domination of one form of property is not conducive 
to the interests of the hacker class. Where the gift relation 
dominates, as in traditional societies, reciprocal obligation in 
predetermined forms renders the hack reactive and particu- 
lar. It rarely reaches its fully abstract form. Where collectiv- 
ized state property dominates, the hack is impeded by the 
direct dependence of the hacker on the bureaucratic form 
of capitalist and pastoralist domination. Where private 
property dominates, as in the vectoral world, it accelerates 
the hack by recognizing it as private property, but thereby 
channels the hack into the relendess reproduction of the 
commodity form. 

Ihe hacker class knows that while it exceeds every repre- 
sentation, and expresses the virtuality of matter and infor- 
mation in its irmovation, it is also potentially the producer 


of a host of dangers. The hack may be as destructive as it is 
productive — ^but only potentially. It is not hackers who poi- 
son the waters, or enrich the plutonium, or genetically mod- 
ify the crops, or inculcate the dangerous creeds, but it is 
hackers who hack these bright new possibilities into being. 
It is the ruling classes who subordinate the potential of the 
hack to its commodified form, who turn potential dangers 
into actual ones. Yet they deflect the legitimate fears of the 
other productive classes onto the hacker class, and confirm 
it with selective uses of the punitive powers of the state to 
contain the productive potential of the hack. The vectoral 
class practices this kind of statecraft as a veritable art-form, 
stroking popular anxiety by criminalizing some marginal 
forms of hacking that would assert their independence from 
the commodifed form. 

Ihe class interest of the working and farming classes is in [2721 
the production of a surplus, the wresting of freedom from 
necessity. The class interest of hackers is in the free and 
open expression of virtuaUty These interests converge in a 
state form that is at once abstract in relation to representa- 
tion, and plural in relation to forms of property. Yet this 
is the bare beginnings of what the combined productive 
classes may desire. They desire a state that is abstract 
enough, plural enough, virtual enough to create openings 
beyond scarcity and the commodity. 

ihe state has its limits. It may be everywhere and nowhere, [273I 
impressed in the very pores and particles of its subjects 
through its management of education and culture, but still 
it has its limits. One limit is the violence with which it 


founds its claim to be sovereign over the laws of representa- 
tion. Challenging this limit merely affirms the injustice at 
the heart of the state, without in any way escaping from it. 
The state is limit, interiority, envelope. Transgression merely 
confirms it. An expressive politics is not transgressive. It 
seeks to escape, not confiront, the state. Those who confiront 
the state, meeting its violence with violence, always harbor 
the reactive desire to become what they behold. 

[27i).l The limit of representation itself is a limit to the state. 
Agamben: 'In the final analysis the state can recognize any 
claim for identity . . . But what the state cannot tolerate in 
any way is that singularities form a community without 
claiming an identity, that human beings co-belong without 
a representable condition of belonging."* The class that can 
express its desires, rather than represent them, is the class 
that escapes the violence of the law. That which cannot be 
named, cannot be identified, cannot be charged, cannot be 
convicted. Abstraction without authority or authorization 
opens the free virtuality outside the law. For contrary to the 
repetitive chant of the state's witting and unwitting apolo- 
gists, there is always something, and something other than 
violence, outside its law. 


J. he experience of subjectivity is not universal. Just as it [2751 
came into being with the enveloping state and the commod- 
ity economy, the subject can pass with the overcoming of 
these limited and partial abstractions. 

Roperty produces, piece by piece, the armor of subjectivity. [2761 
This armor is a hollow shell, separating the nothing that is 
the self from the nothing that is the means external to it by 
which it comes to believe it exists. 

e subject is nothing but the ghostly residue of separa- [2771 
tion, opening the possibility of appropriating from the self 
the objective existence it labors to create, and presenting the 
subject with the objective world as something that it lacks. 
The subject comes to feel its existence only through its lack 
of the object, a lack never quite satisfied by any particular 

e abstract subject develops incrementally, but develops [27BI 
apace with the objectification of the world. The history of 
the production of the world as a thing is at the same time 
the history of the production of the subject, which is to say, 
the production of the self as a thing that produces itself and 
its world as things. 


[2791 Ihe subject comes into existence as an abstract insuf- 
ficiency, made more and more aware of its own lack and its 
own abstraction by its immersion in telesthesia. Where the 
capitalist class dangles before the productive classes the 
objects of their own labor as rare and out of reach, the 
vectoralist class transmits everywhere, via the vectors of 
telesthesia, endless images of objects of desire. Telesthesia 
replaces the object of desire with its image, an image that 
can be attached to any object, wiHy-niUy. At one and the 
same time, the vectoral transformation of desire raises the 
price of desire, and threatens to devalue it completely. The 
vectoral class pushes commodified desire to the point where 
its very proliferation opens the possibility of its overcoming. 

[2801 At the dawn of the history of property's abstraction of the 
world, the pastoraKst class merely laid claim to the farmer's 
labor, and at first got limited access even to that, not least 
because farmers retained some access to property, in the 
form of their immediate means of production. Under such 
conditions, the farmer experiences subjectivity only as exter- 
nal constraint imposed by the demands of meeting the rent 
and producing the necessities of life. 

[2811 Th e seeds of subjectivity as a general condition are already 
present under pastoralist rule, however, in the form of the 
total and limitless demand that the spiritual state of the 
church makes on its victims. Theology presents the subject 
to itself as what it lacks, but it presents lack as spiritual, not 
material; as infinite, rather than finite. As such, the church 
acted as a fetter upon the development of a productive sub- 


Organized religion expresses the needs of the ruling class [262] 
in the form of a demand upon the subject. That demand 
changes as class rule changes. Lack no longer appears as 
infinite, but finite, and the means to fill it, material, not spiri- 
tual. Or rather, the spiritual lack is to be filled by the atten- 
tion to material lack. The theology of the soul becomes the 
theology of the commodity. The capitalist class extended its 
claim upon the worker beyond external observance to the 
worker's interiority. It brought down to earth the limitless 
debt of spiritual usury and forced upon the worker a subjec- 
tivity that viewed work as a debt owed at one and the same 
time to God and Mammon. Where once, as Marx wrote, 
"religion is the opium of the people," now Opium™ is the 
religion of the people.* 

At least outside of working hours the worker was free, and [263I 
many workers lost the habit of devoting free time to work- 
ing off yet another, more ethereal, debt. But theology lives 
on, and still makes its monstrous demands, if not from the 
pulpit, then in the classroom. If not in theology, then at 
least in theory. Vaneigem: "Temporal power, which is firmly 
rooted in the worldly economy, has deconsecrated theology 
and turned it into philosophy, replacing a divine curse with 
an ontological one: the claim that it is inherent in man's con- 
dition to be dispossessed of his own life."* 

Capital merely claims the body of the worker for the dura- [2Bl).l 
tion of the working day. The vectoralist class found the 
means to assert a claim to every aspect of being, via its 
power to designate any part of that being as a resource. The 
struggle to limit the working day, while salutary as a means 


of freeing the body from commodity labor, no longer frees 
the worker from the commodity, but merely releases the 
subject as producer for the even more burdensome task of 
being the subject as consumer. 

[2851 In the age of telesthesia, the vector captures the body and 
mind and indeed soul of the dispossessed as never before. It 

comes closer to dispossession perfected than any other form 
of property. The subject at work becomes producer of com- 
modities, and outside of work, is set to work again recogniz- 
ing the worth of what the commodity represents, as its con- 

[2861 To objectify all of space is to subjectify all of time. Prop- 
erty invades time as well as space, and this is where its 
greatest impact on the subject is to be felt. Time was once a 
property farmers disposed of as they pleased, provided they 
could meet their obligation to the pastoralist master. Then 
time became divided into work time and "leisure." Only the 
latter remained the property of the worker. But now all 
time belongs to property. 

[2871 Time itself becomes the object of temporary outbreaks of 
revolt, ever since the farsighted communards smashed the 
time clocks in the workshops. But while there are tempo- 
rary halts and interruptions to time in which the subject re- 
claims itself as something beyond itself, the totality of prop- 
erty encroaches even upon revolt itself, which, like exotic 
religions, is offered to the subject in commodified form. 
What would otherwise be the history of the subject's strug- 
gle to overcome itself and revolt against scarcity, becomes 
instead the commodity of revolt, which affirms the subject 


merely in its lack of the very revolt the commodity memori- 
alizes in its collector's editions. 

Scarcity is based on the notion that subjective desires are [288I 
infinite, but material goods are few. Therefore some power 
is called into being that allocates scarce resources. Liberal 
"theology" is usually represented as a neutral objective prin- 
ciple, an "invisible hand," when actually what allocates re- 
sources comes to be a class power. The notion of scarcity 
subjectifies desire and objectifies the means to desire's satis- 
faction. They are conceived as separate things that confiront 
each other as if across a metaphysical chasm. It is as if all 
that is desired is an object, and all objects exist to be pos- 
sessed in the name of desire. 

It is the propagation of the myth of scarcity itself that ere- [289] 
ates the abstraction of objectified wants and subjective de- 
sires that can only be met in commodified form. It is only in 
the theory of scarcity that desire need be thought of as hav- 
ing an object, and that this object need be thought of as the 
commodity. True desire is desire for the virtual, not the ac- 
tual. Productivity is desire, desire as becoming in the world. 
The struggle to free the productive classes from the com- 
modity is the struggle to free desire from the myth of its 
lack. Deleuze: "All of this constitutes what might be called a 
right to desire."* 

In the overdeveloped world, some of the producing classes [290] 
capture enough of the surplus to satiate their needs, if not 
their desires. Their desires become their needs. Those not 
working to produce commodified life work to produce new 
necessities that will call into being still new objects of com- 


modification, saturated in the images of desire. And there is 
still more work to do: every subject is enjoined to work on 
itself, to educate itself in its own limitless capacity to desire 
limited things. And yet this great production of the subjec- 
tivity of the object and the objectivity of the subject threat- 
ens to slump again and again, as subjects weary of carrying 
the burdensome armor of their double location as produc- 
ers and consumers of necessity. At such times the state steps 
in to declare boredom the enemy of all the national enve- 
lope claims to secure, and enjoins the subject to labor on it- 
self, if not for itself, as a patriotic duty. 

JDelief in scarcity redirects the subject's experience of its 
own desire from the desire for its own experience, and to- 
wards images that appear to negate the subject's powers, 
and taunt the subject with its limits. Desire becomes a self- 
inflicting wound. And so in the overdeveloped world, desire 
comes to desire images of suffering from the underdevel- 
oped world that seem at once "justified," in the sense of be- 
ing the product of truly monstrous abuses of power, and yet 
far enough away as to render the subject who views the im- 
age as helpless to respond to the suffering in the image as 
the subject in the image is helpless to overcome their tor- 
ture. Global victimization, the feeling of the self as always 
"at risk," is the vectoral mode of ideology. Only it is no 
longer global capital, but the global vector, which at one and 
the same time produces the actual victim, "over there," the 
vicarious suffering subject, "over here" — and the vector of 
telesthesia that governs their (non) relation. 

Ihe liberal economic theory of the scarcity of objects and 
the psychoanalytical theory of desire as subjective lack are 


one and the same theory, and both serve the same class in- 
terest. They are means by which subjects are recruited for 
the production of objects and objects are presented as what 
desire lacks. Both distract from the production of free sub- 
jectivity, which not only frees the subject from objectified 
desire but frees the subject from itself as subject, into the ab- 
solute fireedom of pure becoming as expression. 

There are hackers of subjective desire just as there are [293I 
hackers of the objectified world, and just as the latter hack 
toward the free expressivity of nature from which all objec- 
tifications arise, so too do the former hack beyond the con- 
straints of the subject limited to its apprehension of itself 
and the existing order. "No society can tolerate a position of 
real desire without its structures of exploitation, servitude, 
and hierarchy being compromised."* But what is "real de- 
sire" if not the hack — the desire to release the virtual from 
the actual? Desire itself calls for hacking, to release it from 
false representation as lack, opening its expression with the 
knowledge that it lacks only the absence of lack. Hack the 
lack that lacks the hack. 

e producing classes may or may not aspire to pure be- tegy 
coming, but still yet come to grasp their class interest in 
freeing desire from the constraint of commodifed objects 
and subjects. The producing classes continually free them- 
selves from particular objects of desire, and free themselves 
from subjectivities thrust upon them in the interests of en- 
slaving that subjectivity to particular objects of desire. 
While the producing classes free themselves from particular 
desires, they do not always take the next step, to the ab- 
straction of desire itself from commodification. This is 


where hackers of both the objective world and of subjectiv- 
ity can afiBrm their productive relation to the producing 

for desire as surplus rather than lack, when it breaks out 
from the margins into the centre of the culture. The history 
of culture is alive with instances of the spontaneous hacking 
open of information, expressing the virtuality of desire and 
desire as virtuality. When in power, the pastoralist and cap- 
italist classes respond to these outbreaks with suppression, 
lending glamor to their legend, creating both popular revolt 
and the avant gardes. When in power, the vectoralist class 
responds very differently. It embraces surplus desire and rap- 
idly commodifies its image. Everywhere that desire throws 
off the heavy armor of lack and expresses its own joyful 
plenitude, it quickly finds itself captured as an image and of- 
fered back to itself as representation. Thus the strategy for 
any desire that would arm itself with its own self-unfolding 
is to create for itself a vector outside of commodification, as 
a first step toward accelerating the surplus of expression, 
rather than the scarcity of representation. 

The abstraction of the objective and subjective worlds into 
information freely circulating via the vector opens up the 
virtuality of desire and its potential liberation from com- 
modification. Information is "non-rivalrous" — it knows no 
natural scarcity. Unlike the objectified products of land and 
capital, one's consumption of information need not deprive 
another of it. Surplus appears in its absolute form. The 
struggle becomes one between the hacking of the vector to 

power has to respond periodically to the demand 


open it toward the virtual and the commodification of infor- 
mation as scarcity and mere representation. The possibility 
of an overcoming of subjectivity rests on this infrastructural 
struggle. The means of production of desire — the vectors 
along which can flow an immaterial surplus of information, 
is the first and last point at which the struggle to free subjec- 
tivity is to be waged. Any particular image of the subject in 
revolt can be turned into the image of an object to desire, 
but the vector itself is another matter. The liberation of the 
vector is the one absolute prohibition of the vectoral world, 
and the point at which to challenge it. 

e coming into being of vectors along which information [297] 
flows freely, if not universally, around the world appears to 
usher in a new regime of scarcity even more total than 
that of the reign of capital before it. Everywhere are signs 
presented as the commodifed answer to desire; everywhere 
there are subjects bamboozled into thinking of themselves 
as negated by the signs they do not possess. Sometimes this 
provokes a reactive hardening of the subject. This produces 
a bunkering within the envelope of some tradition or other 
that appears to predate the vectoral world, even if, paradoxi- 
cally enough, the vectoral is now the only means by which 
the traditional reproduces itself, as a representation of tradi- 
tion. Sometimes this hardening and bunkering in tradition 
produces a violence that strikes out, if none too clearly, at 
what it takes to be the images of a vectoral power this false 
tradition would resist. The vector produces its own vectoral 
reaction, with the paradoxical effect of accelerating the vec- 
toral itself We no longer have roots, we have aerials. We no 
longer have origins, we have terminals. 


e vectoral class detach desire from the object, and attach 
it to the sign. These signs of what is to be desired prolifer- 
ate, even though what they signify is scarcity itself But pop- 
ular desire is never without resources, and vectoral power 
can be caught napping. Popular desire quickly learns to 
counterfeit the sign that in the first place is a counterfeit of 
itself. It reappropriates itself as itself, but twice removed, 
coveting the false and then falsifying the coveted. All that re- 
mains is to hack a path from desire's own plenitude to the 
immaterial multiplicity of information. 

ere is a detectable air of desperation in the work of the 
vectoral class, a constant anxiety about the durability of a 
commodifed regime of desire built on a scarcity that has no 
necessary basis in the material world. The producing classes 
come again and again to the threshold of perceiving them- 
selves as capable of the self affirmation of their desires, and 
to a realisation that subjectivity merely binds them to the 
commodity, and that scarcity is the product of class rule, not 
an objective fact of nature. The old mole of popular desire 
works steadily beneath the foundations of vectoral power, 
undermining it from below. 


Necessity is always and everywhere just necessity. That hu- [300I 
mans fuck and eat and suffer and die is the eternal preoccu- 
pation of the aphorists. That something over and above ne- 
cessity emerges out of collective human endeavor produces 
not just history, but the production of history as a represen- 
tation. Bataille: "The history of life on earth is mainly the 
effect of a wild exuberance, the dominant event is the devel- 
opment of luxury, the production of increasingly burden- 
some forms of life."* 

e accumulation of a surplus, the struggle over its dispo- [301I 
sition, its investment in war or feast or history writing, or 
back into the production of yet more surplus, this is the ex- 
perience of history and the history of experience. The gath- 
ering of a surplus implies the creation of an abstract plane 
upon which to struggle over its disposition. This history is a 
secret history. Each victorious ruling class in the struggle for 
the distribution of the surplus represents history itself as en- 
tirely of its own authorship. But in the secret history of the 
surplus, it is the hack that produces the possibility of surplus 
through its abstraction, and the labor of its extraction and 
accumulation that constitutes history's surplus, carried over 
as a murmur, from one era to the next. 


[302] Olass society in its abstract form emerges out of the accu- 
mulation of surplus, and represents a break from the dis- 
persal of surplus in the form of luxury and the gift, and the 
ploughing back of the surplus into production itself Hence- 
forth, it will be production itself that will be in surplus, 
seeking always a surplus of desire to match. 

[303] Theories that attempt to grasp in the abstract the produc- 
tive development of human society may take one of two 
forms. They may be based on the concept of scarcity, and le- 
gitimize the rule of one or other class who must take charge 
of scarce resources. Or they may be based on the scandal of 
surplus, on the conviction that the productive classes in soci- 
ety produce more than their immediate needs, and may con- 
sider themselves deprived of this surplus. From the point of 
view of the productive classes, only one of these is a theory, 
the other an ideology — which is to say, not conducive to the 
expression of its interests. 

[30U] That there is an oppressive experience of scarcity in the 
world at large is all too real, and so too is its attenuation by 
the vectoralization of the world. As more and more of na- 
ture becomes a quantifiable resource for commodity pro- 
duction, so the producing classes in the overdeveloped and 
underdeveloped world alike come to perceive the power the 
vectoral class has brought into the world: the power to steer 
development here or there at will, creating sudden bursts of 
productive wealth, and, just as suddenly, famine, poverty, 
unemployment, and scarcity. 

[30S] The same vectoral flows of information that chasten the 
productive classes with the knowledge of their own tempo- 


rary grasp on a pay packet and the commodified bounty, 
also show again and again the immense productive re- 
sources the world possesses, and the artificial nature of this 
experience of scarcity. The vectors along which thread the 
information that knits objects and subjects together in the 
vast global dance of productivity are the same vectors which 
show the world to be nothing but the spectacle of surplus. 

e same vectoral connection shows the limitless virtuaUty [3061 
of information itself, which again and again escapes the 
commodity form and flows as pure gift among the produc- 
ing classes as an advertisement for its own bounty, only to be 
stuffed back into the objectified commodity form by the 
vectoral class and held apart firom the producing classes as 
an artificial scarcity. 

e vectoral class must maintain a surplus of subjective de- [307I 
sire over and above the surplus of objective things. Desire 
must be pushed one step ahead, lest demand slacken and the 
useless profusion of things appear in the naked light of its 
futility. It's harder than it looks. The producing classes again 
and again create their own expressions of desire, desire out- 
side lack and commodification, only to find that this collective 
expression of desire is appropriated from them, transformed 
into commodities and sold back to them, as if they some- 
how lacked the productive energy that is their birthright. 

e pastoralists are the very scions of scarcity. The cap- [308] 
itaUst class maintains its rule of scarcity with some con- 
fidence; the vectoraHst class maintains scarcity only with in- 
creasingly artificial means. The vectoral class commodifies 
information as if it were an object of desire, under the sign 


of scarcity. The producing classes rightly take all commodi- 
fied information to be their own collective production. We, 

the producers, are the source of all the images, the stories, 
the wild profusions of all that culture becomes. The vector- 
aUst class wrestles all this into the commodified form, while 
the producing classes bootleg and pirate any and every ex- 
pression of information freely. Mauss: "One likes to assert 
that they are the product of the collective mind as much as 
the individual mind. Everyone wishes them to fall into the 
public domain or join the general circulation of wealth as 
quickly as possible."* 

e vectoralist class enlists the efforts of hackers to pro- 
duce ever-new ways and means to commodify this produc- 
tivity, and so maintain a surplus of desire and the scarcity of 
the desired object. But short of seizing hold of a monopoly 
on all vectors for producing and distributing information, 
the vectoralist class cannot entirely limit the free productiv- 
ity of the hacker class, which continues to produce yet more 
fuel for the free productivity of desire. New images and sto- 
ries, new vectors with which to organize them, new techni- 
cal means of perceiving and organizing the world, new cul- 
tural means of producing experience. In its desperate need 
to encourage productivity, the vectoralist class induces the 
very productivity that exceeds the commodity itself. 

Farmers and workers discover for themselves, outside the 
commodified flows of information, that hackers exist and 
are struggling to produce new abstractions on both the sub- 
jective and objective axes, which have the potential to liber- 
ate desire fi-om the negativity of scarcity. They learn to 


adopt and adapt new abstractions for themselves, rather 
than in the commodified form in which the vectoralist class 
would sell virtuaUty to the masses. 

Farmers and workers discover, with a little help from the [311I 
hacker class, that information wants to be free, that its scar- 
city is maintained only by the artificial means of the com- 
modification of the vector and the policing of representa- 
tion by the state. Initially, the producing classes discover the 
means to propagate information freely as a means to acquire 
what it desires. But the freeing of information, even in the 
margins of third nature, breaches the economy of scarcity, 
and the separation of subject and object maintained by the 
object's scarcity. The producing classes are reunited with 
their own free productivity, at first inadvertently, but in such 
a way as to plant the seeds of a desire for desire outside of 
scarcity itself. 

e vectoralist class discovers — irony of ironies! — a scar- [312! 
city of scarcity. It struggles to find new "business models" 
for information, but ends up settling for its only reliable 
means of extracting a surplus from its artificial scarcity, 
through the formation of monopolies over every branch of 
its production. Stocks, flows and vectors of information are 
brought together in vast enterprises, with the sole purpose 
of extracting a surplus through the watertight commodifica- 
tion of all elements of the process. By denying to the pro- 
ducing classes any free means of reproducing their own cul- 
ture, the vectoralist class hopes to extract a surplus from 
selling back to the producing classes their own souls. But the 
very strength of the vectoralist class — its capacity to 


monopolize the vector, points to its weakness. The only lack 
is the lack of necessity. The only necessity is the overcoming 
of necessity. The only scarcity is of scarcity itself 


-Lhe vector is viral. Burroughs: "The word is now a virus. [313I 
The flu virus may once have been a healthy lung cell. It 
is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the 
lungs. The word may once have been a healthy neural cell. 
It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages 
the central nervous system."* And the means by which the 
word, or the virus, moves from host to host is the vector. 
The vector is the way and means by which a given pathogen 
travels from one population to another. Water is a vector for 
cholera, bodily fluids for HIV By extension, a vector may be 
any means by which anything moves. Vectors of transport 
move objects and subjects. Vectors of communication move 

J-elegraph, telephone, television, telecommunications: [3il(.l 
these terms name not just particular vectors, but a general 
abstract capacity that they bring into the world and expand. 
AU are forms of telesthesia, or perception at a distance. 
Starting with the telegraph, the vector of telesthesia acceler- 
ates the speed at which information moves relative to all 
other things. Telesthesia produces the abstract speed by 
which all other speeds are measured and monitored. 


[315] Ihe development of the vector creates the space within 
which the abstraction of property brings more and more of 
nature under the reign of the commodity. Marx: "Capital by 
its nature drives beyond every spatial barrier. Thus the cre- 
ation of the physical conditions of exchange — the means of 
communication and transport — the annihilation of space by 
time — becomes an extraordinary necessity for it."* Only it is 
not capital, but the vector, that provides the material means 
for this annihilation of particular traditions and envelopes. 
Capital, as a stage of the abstraction of property, enters the 
world only through the material development of the vector 
which carries it, and all forms of property, further and fur- 
ther into the world. 

t3l61 Th e extraordinary necessity of the vector for capital leads 
to the capture of capital and its interests by a new ruling 
class that exploits capital's dependence on the vector — the 
vectoralist class. The vectoralist class emerges out of capital 
just as capital emerged out of the pastoralist class, as a spe- 
cialized interest that gravitates towards the most abstract as- 
pect of property, and discovers the leverage that control over 
abstraction can bring in relation to the rest of its former 
class. As the vectors of telesthesia differentiate commimica- 
tion from the vectors of transport, information emerges as 
an abstraction ripe for commodification in all of its as- 
pects — as a stock, as a flow, as a vector. 

[3171 Even more than the pastoralist and capitalist classes before 
it, the vectoralist class depends on the advances hackers pro- 
duce in order to maintain their competitive advantage and 


the profitability of their enterprises. Where owners of land 
and capital may dominate through the sheer level of invest- 
ment required, the vectoral class relies on a form of prop- 
erty subject to constant hacks that create qualitatively new 
forms of production and devalue the old means of produc- 
tion. The vectoral class invests the surplus it appropriates 
into hacking to an unprecedented degree, and bases the for- 
tunes of its enterprises on intellectual property. Its invest- 
ment in hacking is hardly disinterested. Its search is for ever- 
new ways to vectoralize information in the form of a com- 

Once information has become the object of a regime of [318I 
property, a vectoral class emerges who extract its margin 
from the ownership of information. This class competes 
among itself for the most lucrative ways to commodity in- 
formation as a resource. With the commodification of infor- 
mation comes its vectoralization. Extracting a surplus from 
information requires technologies capable of transporting 
information through space, but also through time. The stor- 
age of information may be as valuable as its transmission, 
and the archive is a vector through time just as telesthesia is 
a vector through space. The whole potential of space and 
time becomes the object of the vectoral class. 

e vectoral class comes into its own once it is in posses- [319] 
sion of powerful technologies for vectoralizing information. 
Information becomes something separate from the material 
conditions of its production and circulation. It is extracted 
from particular localities, cultures, forms, and distributed in 


ever widening circles, under the sign of property. The ab- 
straction of information from the world becomes, in turn, 
the means of abstracting the world from itself. 

[3201 Th e vectoral class may commodify information stocks or 
flows as well as communication vectors. A stock of infor- 
mation is an archive, a body of information maintained 
through time that has enduring value. A flow of informa- 
tion is the capacity to extract information of temporary 
value out of events and to distribute it widely and quickly. A 
vector is the means of achieving either the temporal distri- 
bution of a stock, or the spatial distribution of a flow of in- 
formation. Vectoral power as a class power arises from the 
ownership and control of all three aspects. 

[3211 Th e vector not only abstracts information from the particu- 
lar conditions of its production, it abstracts every other rela- 
tion with which it comes into contact. The expansion of the 
reach of markets, states, armies, cultures, from local to na- 
tional to supranational forms, is conditioned by the devel- 
opment of the vectors along which information travels to 
thread them together. The vector traverses any envelope, ex- 
panding it, exploding it, or provoking it to lick and seal itself 

[3221 The irreversible abstraction of information comes at the 
point where vectors of telesthesia are hacked into being that 

free information from the velocity of movement of objects 
and subjects. Once information can move faster than people 
or things, it becomes the means by which people and things 
are to be meshed together in the interests of productive ac- 


tivity in ever expanding envelopes. Once the vectors of tele- 
thesia, with their superior speed, seize control of vectors of 
movement, a third nature arises with the power to direct 
and shape second nature. But like any everyday experience 
— it seems "natural." The vector becomes natural as third 
nature becomes historical. 

The vectors of movement abstract from the geography of [323I 
nature, and provide the axes along which collective human 
labor transforms nature into second nature. Second na- 
ture offers a new home in the world, in which freedom is 
wrested from necessity, but where class rule imposes yet 
new necessities on the producing classes. The vectors of 
telesthesia further abstract second nature from itself pro- 
ducing a third nature in which new freedoms are wrested 
from necessity — and new necessities produced by class dom- 
ination. But as the vector brings more and more abstraction 
into the world, it also opens more and toward the virtual. 
The geography of third nature becomes a virtual geog- 

Just as second nature extracts itself from nature yet de- lizKi 
pends on it, so too does third nature extract itself from na- 
ture and depend on it. Third nature is not transcendence or 
escape from nature, but merely the release of the virtuality 
of nature into the world, as the production of collective hu- 
man labor. 

With the coming of telesthesia, the communication vector 
becomes a power over and above both nature as well as sec- 
ond nature. The vector intensifies the exploitation of nature. 



by providing an ever-present third nature, within which na- 
ture is grasped as an object, as a quantifiable resource, to be 
commodified and exploited by the ruling classes. The world 
itself becomes objectified. 

[3261 Each ruling class of the vectoral era appropriates the world 
as it finds it, and transforms it into a world ripe for appropri- 
ation by its successor, deploying ever more abstract means. 
The pastoralist class appropriates nature as its property, and 
extracts a surplus from it. The capitalist class transforms it 
toward a second nature, a built environment in which the 
resistance of nature to objectification is mitigated, if not 
overcome. The vectoralist class appropriates second nature 
as the material conditions for the reign of a third nature, in 
which resources both natural and social in origin may be 
represented as things. 

[3271 Th e vector intensifies the setting to work of the producing 
classes, but in the form of commodity production. Not just 
nature is objectified and quantified, but so too is second 
nature. The producing classes find themselves transformed 
into objects of quantification and calculation. Third nature 
becomes the environment within which the production of 
second nature accelerates and intensifies, becoming global 
in its apprehension of itself Second nature, in the grip of a 
third nature, is at the same time the workshop within which 
nature itself is appropriated in an objectified form. Nature 
appears as the world, and the world appears as nature, pre- 
cisely at the moment that an objectifying power seizes it in 
its totality as a resource. 


J.elesthesia allows the quantification of all things, their [328] 
comparison, and the direction of resources according to the 
apprehension of the world simultaneously as a field of ob- 
jects that can be brought into productive relation. Nature 
and second nature, objectified as resources, are simulta- 
neously available for calculation and mobilization. Space be- 
comes subject to instantaneous command. But what is ratio- 
nal as a particular appropriation of the world combines with 
every other equally rational appropriation, in an irrational 
whole. Or, what amounts to the same thing: considered as a 
static equilibrium, the vectoral order is indeed an order, con- 
sidered as a dynamic unfolding of an event, it drives logi- 
cally to the exhaustion of its resources. 

e vectoral class ascend to the illusion of an instanta- [329I 
neous and global plane of calculation and control. But as 
the productive classes of the world come to know only too 
well, it is not the vectoraUst class that reaUy holds subjective 
power over the objective world. The vector itself usurps the 
commanding role, becoming the sole repository of will to- 
ward a world that can be apprehended only in its commodi- 
fied form. This emerging global plane is at once totalizing 
and emphatically partial. A totality emerges under the sign 
of a mere aspect. 

e vectoral class unleashes this third nature upon the [330I 
world, and profits from it, either directly or indirectly. It 
profits from the producing classes, and also from the other 
ruling classes, to whom it sells the vectoral capacity to grasp 
the world in its objectified form — the capacity of telesthesia. 


Sometimes the vectoral class competes with the capitaKst 
and pastoraKst classes; sometimes it colludes and collabo- 
rates. The state-form adjusts itself accordingly. The index of 
the relationship of the vectoral class to state power is the 
transformation of the laws governing vectors, such as the 
airwaves and networks, and regulating patents, copyrights 
and trademarks. When thought itself and the air itsetf have 
been subordinated to their representation as property, the 
vectoral class is in charge. 

[3311 Th e becoming-vectoral of this world is the release of the 
productive potential of all its resources, and at the same 
time, the creation of a category of resource for any and ev- 
ery thing in it. The vectoral is not only the potential to con- 
ceive of everything as a resource, but also the potential to 
bring that resource into productive relation to any other re- 
source whatsoever. The vector turns particular geographies 
into virtual geography, offering its specific qualities as ex- 
changeable quantities. 

[332] Th e reign of the vector is one in which any and every thing 
can be apprehended as a commodity. Everything that ap- 
pears is something distinct, something of value, and which 
may be transformed at will into any other thing, which may 
be brought together with any other thing of value in the 
creation of a new value. The reign of the vector is the reign 
of value. 

[3331 Having set third nature in motion, the vectoral class finds 
itself increasingly unable to control its creation. Subjectivity 
resides not in the vectoral class, but in the cumulative prod- 


uct of its activity, the third nature that arises out of the pro- 
liferation of the vector. This third nature comes moreover to 
represent to itself its own limitations. These limitations do 
not escape the attention of the productive classes, who must 
daily live with them. Third nature fails to allocate natural re- 
sources in such a way that second nature could ever be sus- 

There may be cold comfort for the productive classes in [33m 
this. They may not control the means by which information 
is extracted from their lives and returned to them in form 
of the commodity. They may not control the allocation of 
resources based on the instantaneous quantification of all 
things in the world, but the point may be reached where no 
class does. The vectoral class produces a means of domina- 
tion over the world that comes to dominate even its own ex- 
ertions and extortions. 

e vector is a power the world over, but a power that is [3351 
not evenly distributed. Nothing in the nature of the vector 
determines that it must be deployed here rather than there, 
between these persons rather than those, between these cit- 
ies rather than these hinterlands, these empires rather than 
these peripheries. Nothing about the vector in the abstract 
says what flows along it must only flow one way, from boss 
to hand, from metropolis to province, from empire to col- 
ony, from the overdeveloped to the underdeveloped world. 
And yet this is the vectoral as we find it. This open potential 
yet limited application is the very condition of the vectoral. 
As a figure in geometry, a vector is a line of fixed length, but 
of no fixed position. As a figure in technology, a vector is a 


means of movement that has fixed qualities of speed and ca- 
pacity, but no predetermined application. A vector is partly 

determined, but also partly open. A vector is partly actual, 
partly virtual. All that is determined by the technology is 
the form in which information is objectified, not the where 
and the how. That vectoral development is uneven develop- 
ment calls for analysis that looks beyond the fetish of the 
technical, to the form of class power that seizes upon its vir- 
tual openness and renders it as actual inequality. 

Ihe whole of life in the most overdeveloped parts of the 
world presents itself as a vast accumulation of vectors. It is 

the proliferation and intensification of the vector that con- 
stitutes the "development" of the overdeveloped world. 
Whether this be an advance toward the furthest regions of 
hell or not remains to be seen. 

In the underdeveloped world, the vector becomes the 
means by which the transformation of nature into second 
nature is effected. But where, in the overdeveloped world, 
this process at least affords the productive classes the oppor- 
tunity of struggling against their local ruling classes, in the 
underdeveloped world the productive classes must struggle 
against a global and abstract third nature. The resources, 
natural and social, that are detected and appropriated there 
become the means for the further development of over- 
development elsewhere. 

Such is perhaps how it always was in the colonial dimen- 
sion of vectoral development. But where once the underde- 
veloped world struggled directly against a forcible appro- 


priation and commodification, now it struggles against an 
abstract and vectoral power, everywhere and nowhere. 

Once upon a time, the colonies were ruled by battalions of 
soldiers; now — by a phalanx of bankers. The underdevel- 
oped world has Httle choice but to acquire vectoral power 
for the defence of its envelopes against the vectoral power 
emanating from the overdeveloped world. 

e vector perfected would be the relation that holds in [339I 
that world which is, in every one of its aspects and mo- 
ments, potentially becoming every other world. That this 
world has not come to pass, yet is indeed the virtual aspect 
of the actual world as we find it, leads to a questioning of 
the powers that limit this potential. Constraint is what must 
be accounted for, the constraint imposed by the direction of 
the development of the vector by its commodified form and 
its subordination to the rule of the vectoral class. 

e hacker class seeks the liberation of the vector from the [3U01 
reign of the commodity, but not to set it indiscriminately 
free. Rather, to subject it to collective and democratic devel- 
opment. The hacker class can release the virtuality of the 
vector only in principle. It is up to an alliance of all the pro- 
ductive classes to turn that potential to actuality. Once the 
productive classes have actual control over the vector, then 
its virtual powers can be realized as a process of collective 

Under the control of the vectoral class, the vector proceeds [3U1I 
by means of objectification, and produces a corresponding 
subjectivity. Just as the object becomes an abstract value, so 


too does the subject. A vectoral subjectivity arises which is 
not the universal enlightened subject long dreamt of in the 
overdeveloped world. Vectoral subjectivity is abstract, but 
not universal. It acquires its specificity as the internalizing 
of the differentiation of values that appear on the abstract 
plane of the vector. This subjectivity is as partial as vectoral 
objectivity — the difference being that an object does not 
know it has been appropriated as a resource by the vector, 
while a subject potentially does. The subject experiences its 
partiality as loss or lack, which it may seek to fulfil through 
the very same field of values — the field of the vector — that 
produces the lack in the first place. Or, it may hack the vec- 
tor, opening it to the production of qualities excluded from 
the dominant form of communication under class rule. 

Ihe vectoral class struggles at every turn to maintain its 
subjective power over the vector, but as it continues to profit 
by the proliferation of the vector, some capacity over it al- 
ways escapes control. In order to market and profit by the 
information it peddles over the vector, it must in some de- 
gree address the vast majority of the producing classes in 
terms of their real desires. The vectoral class finds itself al- 
ways opening the vector towards the producing classes and 
then struggling to shut or reappropriate the very desires it 
has called forth. The veritable riot of representations pro- 
duces inevitable riots against representation. 

It remains only for the producing classes, addressed as if 
they were productive agents of desire, to really produce 
themselves as and for themselves, and use the available vec- 


tors for a collective becoming. This struggle for class power 
on the part of the producing classes is a struggle for collec- 
tive becoming. It joins with the planetary struggle for sur- 
vival, in which the whole of nature, in all its dimensions, 
must appear as a multitude of living, collective forces. 

great challenge to the hacker class is not just to create [3UU1 
the abstractions by which the vector may develop, but the 
forms of collective expression that may overcome the limits 
not just of commodification, but of objectification in gen- 
eral, of which commodification is just the most pernicious 
and one-sided development. But the hacker class cannot 
change the world on its own. It can offer itself out for hire to 
the vectoralist class for the maintenance of the reign of the 
commodity; or it can express itself as a gift to the producing 
classes, pushing abstraction beyond the bounds of the com- 
modity form. The hacker class virtuaHzes, the producing 
classes actualize. 

e interest of the hacker class in the production of pro- [31*51 
duction, in the abstraction of the world, the expression of 
the virtuaUty of nature, can be brought into accord with the 
needs and interests of nature itself But this too is only a step 
toward another history. A history where nature expresses it- 
self as itself, as neither object nor subject, but as its infinite 
virtuaUty. A history in which the production of a fourth, or 
fifth nature, nature to infinity, affirms the nature of nature 


e uneven development of the resources of nature that l2k(>\ 
the vector objectifies leads to relations of exploitation be- 
tween states. Those states in which the ruling class can 
quickly seize control of abstractions and productively apply 
them to resources acquire a power over other states and can 
force relations of unequal exchange upon them. 

e most developed states are those in which the feudal [3U71 
patchwork of particular property forms and traditional 
means of deploying resources is quickly overturned by the 
more productive, abstract and vectoral forms. Local and 
qualitative property forms give way to the abstraction of 
private property, which pits farmers against pastoralists, and 
workers against capitalists on a local, then regional, then na- 
tional scale. 

-A.t each stage of its unfolding, this abstraction of space [3lj8l 
develops out of the imposition of abstract geographies of 
communication vectors on the concrete and particularized 
geographies of nature and second nature. The vector cre- 
ates the plane upon which localities merge into regions, re- 
gions into states, states into suprastate unions. The develop- 


ment of telesthesia and the bifurcation of the vector into 
communication and transport greatly accelerate the pro- 

t3i(.9l Wherever the productive hack that best releases the surplus 
of production can be identified, applied and is put into prac- 
tice quickly, surplus accumulates, and the territorial power 
of the most productive localities, regions, states and supra- 
states grows apace. If the hack accelerates the development 
of the vector, the vector accelerates the hack. Each is a mul- 
tiplier of the potential of the other, and of those territories 
within which this productivity is most developed. 

[3501 erever hacking has been most at liberty, best resourced 

and most rapidly adopted, a surplus is released and produc- 
tivity grows. Wherever hacking has been most rapidly ap- 
plied to commodification, all traditional and local fiefdoms 
and unproductive pockets have been liquidated, their re- 
sources thrown into larger and larger pools of resources, out 
of which ever more varied productive possibilities may be 
further generated. 

[3511 erever hacking has produced the most varied productive 

possibilities, power arises that subordinates territory to its 
demands. Localities dominate regions, regions states, states 
other states. Wherever these imperial powers arise, they be- 
come a power also over hacking, subordinating it to the 
growing demand of the ruling classes for forms of abstrac- 
tion that further enhance and defend their power. Thus the 
liberty that gave rise to abstraction, and abstraction to 
power, comes back to impose new necessities on the free ex- 
pression of the hacker class. 


In the states where this process has developed most rapidly, [3S2I 
to the point where these centres of power constitute an 
overdeveloped bloc of states, the exploitation of underdevel- 
oped territories by the ruling classes creates the surplus out 
of which the state may compromise with the productive 
classes and incorporate some of their interests — at the ex- 
pense of the underdeveloped world. 

e same vectors that permit an opening of abstraction [3S3I 
into the world, allowing the ruling classes to expand into the 
developing world, can become a means to erect barriers to 
protect the overdeveloped world. Thus the ruling classes 
seek to open the developing world to its flows of capital and 
information, but it cultivates an alliance with the productive 
classes within the borders of the overdeveloped world for 
the maintenance of barriers against flows emanating from 
the underdeveloped world. Neither the labor, nor the prod- 
ucts of the labor of the developing world are to be allowed 
free entry into the overdeveloped territories. 

abstraction of the world that the vector makes possible I35ki 
is arrested in a state of development that represents the in- 
terests of the ruling classes, but in which the producing 
classes of the overdeveloped world have acquired a stake 
through their partial democratization of the state and par- 
tial socialization of property through state ownership. "Pro- 
duction of wealth in the empire of signs is the reproduction 
of scarcity and the cyber-policed poverty of everything out- 

i astoralists and farmers unite against the underdeveloped [3SSI 
world in protecting markets for foodstuflfs bounded by the 


overdeveloped state. Likewise, capitalists and workers unite 
to protect markets against goods produced in the underde- 
veloped world. An "historic compromise" arises in which 
the vector is deployed unevenly, and abstraction stops at the 
state borders. 

[3561 Th e hacker class is also partly accommodated, through the 
recognition of intellectual property as property, and 
through its partial socialization. The high rate of production 
of new abstractions is thus secured by accommodating the 
interests of the hacker class within the overdeveloped terri- 
tories. This compromise is contingent and temporary. The 
overdeveloped world may arrest the abstraction of the vec- 
tor by turning it into a means of enclosing its local and re- 
gional interests, but the overdeveloped world also incubates 
the rapid hack of vectoral technologies with the capacity to 
overcome such limits. 

[3571 The productive classes of the underdeveloped world, 
though deprived of resources, exceed themselves in their 
collective ingenuity for creating opportunities out of global 
disadvantage. Every resistance to their demand for vectoral 
justice is met with ever more inventive means to circumvent 
inequality and exploitation. In the underdeveloped world, 
the hacker class as class may not be well defined, due to 
the inchoate state of intellectual property law. The creative 
practice of the hack, however, is far from underdeveloped. 
It is an organic part of the tactics of everyday life among 
the farming and working classes, to an extent sometimes 
lost among the productive classes of the overdeveloped 


Ihe compromise between the ruling and productive classes [3581 
in the overdeveloped world only encompasses the pastoralist 
and capitalist ruling interests, who are in any case limited by 
the partial development of the potential of the vector from 
conceiving of their productive universe on a global abstract 
plane. The rise of a vectoraUst class that profits by the ab- 
straction of information itself rapidly overcomes this pru- 
dent limiting of the territorial ambitions of the ruling class. 
The vectoral class aspires to rule in the underdeveloped 
world directly, reaching through the pores of its envelopes, 
into its networks, its identities — and as a consequence pro- 
vokes the fiercest reactions. 

While the vectoral class played a subordinate role in the de- [3591 
velopment of the abstract space of the commodity econ- 
omy of the overdeveloped world, it assumes a leading role 
in extending abstraction to the world at large. Its capacity to 
vectoraUze all of the world's resources, to put them all on 
the same abstract and quantifiable plane, creates the condi- 
tions for the expansion of the territorial ambitions and de- 
sires of all the ruling classes. 

The commodity economy has always been a globalizing [360I 
force, but under the rule of capital, the global served the in- 
terests of the powerful ruling states, whereas under the rule 
of the vectoral, states come to serve the interests of an 
emerging global power. The vectoral class detaches power 
fi-om its spatial fixity. It dreams of a world in which place 
gives way to space, where any and every locus the vector 
touches becomes a node in a matrix of values, yielding ob- 
jects that can be fi-eely appropriated in their productivity. 


freely combined with any and every other object, regardless 
of distance, or the particular happenstance of origin. 

As the vectoral class detaches itself from the envelope of 
the state, it shreds the historic compromises capital made 
with the productive classes within their borders, and carves 
transnational, commodified information out of national, so- 
cialized culture and education. VectoraHsts come to repre- 
sent their interests through suprastate organisations, within 
which the ruling classes of all the overdeveloped states en- 
force upon others the global conditions most conductive 
to the expansion of pastoraUst, capitalist and vectoralist 
interests around the globe. An index of the influence of 
the vectoral interest in supranational politics is the priority 
given to international patent, copyright and trademark pro- 
tection, and media and communication deregulation. The 
abstractness of the property upon which the vectoral class 
stakes its power requires the globalization of regime of law 
and policing to protect it. 

U nder the leadership of the vectoral class, the ruling classes 
of the overdeveloped world pit themselves against the inter- 
ests of the ruling classes of the underdeveloped world, and 
against the state envelopes within which these less powerful 
states sought to limit the inroads of global commodifica- 
tion. The vector provides all of the ruling classes of the 
overdeveloped world with a direct, subtle and instantaneous 
means of coordinating not only the objectification of all re- 
sources, but the surveillance and deterrence of the national 
aspirations of the underdeveloped world. 


A.S the raling classes of the underdeveloped world struggle [363I 
to maintain the protection of their state envelopes, they re- 
strict the potential productivity of their productive classes, 
and cut themselves off from the accelerated production of 
abstraction the comes from the rapid spread of any and ev- 
ery potential new hack. But the only option these ruling 
classes are offered is to sell out to the ruling classes of the 
overdeveloped world, and hand over their territories to the 
liquidation of local practices and subordination to emerging 
global norms. 

Desperate for the investment of the surplus appropriated I3(>k\ 
by the overdeveloped world's ruling classes, the states of the 
underdeveloped world are forced to choose between surren- 
dering their sovereignty or reconciling themselves to a di- 
minished rate of growth of the surplus and a relentless dim- 
inution of power relative to the overdeveloped world. 

e choices facing the productive classes of the underde- [36SI 
veloped world are even starker. When their states lose their 
sovereignty, they become a resource for the global produc- 
tion of food and goods, which everywhere seeks to extract 
the maximum surplus. The state loses its ability to socialize 
part of that surplus as a condition of access to capital and 
entry to the emerging global order. 

e only alternative offered the productive classes is to ally [3661 

itself with that faction of the local capitalist and pastoralist 
classes that resist the erosion of national sovereignty. In this 
case the productive classes may strike a bargain within a 


state cut off from development and left behind in the global 
production and distribution of surplus. Some bargain. The 

result is often the merging of the ruling classes with the 
state in a bureaucratic or kleptocratic form, which, should it 
become weak enough, may be subverted or even attacked 
outright by the military wing of the military entertainment 
complex of the overdeveloped world. The examples of Ser- 
bia and Iraq are warning enough to other such states to be- 
come even more repressive, devoting even more of a mea- 
gre surplus to arms, lest they fall prey to the punitive powers 
of the overdeveloped world. 

13671 Th e rise of a vectoral class, within first national, and then 
international spaces, brings with it the demand for the pri- 
vatization of all information. The vectorahst class every- 
where comes into conflict with its erstwhile allies to the ex- 
tent that the vectoralists seek to extract as much surplus as 
the market will bear for all aspects of the production and 
circulation of information. The capitalist and pastoralist 
classes were formerly content to permit the state to take 
charge of these activities, which they regard as unproduc- 
tive, and to socialize them. The vectoral class presses the 
state to privatize all holdings in communication, education 
and culture, and at the same time to secure stronger and 
stronger forms of intellectual property right, even when 
these developments are contrary to the logic of expanding 
the surplus as a whole. 

[368I The interests of the vectoralist class also come into conflict 
with those of the subordinate classes who benefited from 
the partial socialization of information through the state. 


Some of the cost to the subordinate classes within the domi- 
nant states is offset by the exploitation by the vectoralists of 

the developing world, where increases in the cost of infor- 
mation weigh particularly heavily on the struggle to wrest 
freedom from necessity. 

Just as the producing classes in the overdeveloped world [369I 
struggle within the state against the privatization of infor- 
mation, so too they can join with interests across the class 
spectrum from the developing world in the global strug- 
gle against a vectoralist monopoly of information. While in 
many other respects the productive classes of the overdevel- 
oped and underdeveloped world find their interests opposed 
to each other, here they find common ground. 

e spread of information vectors creates an ever more ab- [370I 
stract space within which the world may appear as an array 
of quantifiable resources. The particular and contingent bor- 
ders and local qualities give way to an abstract space of 
quantification. This process is not natural or inevitable and 
everywhere meets resistance, but this resistance is itself a 
product of the process of abstraction, which makes what 
once appeared as natural local conditions appear as some- 
thing threatened by an emerging plane of abstraction. Mere 
resistance to the vector takes on, willy-nilly, a vectoral form. 
The challenge for the producing classes is not merely to re- 
act to the vector, or use it reactively, but to see beyond its ac- 
tual form to its virtual form. 

e spread of the vector homogenizes space and unifies [371I 
time, passing through the pores of the old state borders 


and threatening the particularities that once resided luichal- 
lenged with the state's envelope. Those local identities that 
come to experience themselves in the wake of the globalisa- 
tion of the vector are not its antithesis, but merely a product 
of the vector bringing representations into contact and con- 
flict. The "traditional" and the "local" appear as represen- 
tations when they cease to exist as anything but representa- 

Vectoralists of the underdeveloped world learn to manage 
and exploit representations of their own traditional culture 
for global commodified consumption. No sooner have they 
identified and marketed the expression of their culture as a 
commodity than the global vectoral interests learn to dupli- 
cate this appearance of authenticity. Unlike commodities 
with material qualities, information as a commodity may be 
fi^eely counterfeited. But where the vectoralist interests ema- 
nating from the overdeveloped world fiercely protect their 
"intellectual property," they freely appropriate the informa- 
tion of value from the underdeveloped world. 

e vector transforms local representations into footloose 
global competitors, sometimes even bringing them into vio- 
lent confrontation as it breaches their seemingly natural re- 
lation to place. But the vector also opens a virtual domain 
for the production of qualitatively new kinds of difference. 
These differences too may be caught up in the war of rep- 
resentation, and the policing of information's domains of 
meaning and mattering. But the vector may also be the 
plane upon which a free expression of difference may affirm 


and renew itself. Heterogeneity flourishes alongside the im- 
position of uniform global commodity forms, as a new mul- 
tiplicity hacked out of the vectoral. 

e politics of globalization comes to represent the conflu- 13W 
ence and confusion of these trends. It pits the overdeveloped 
world against the underdeveloped world, and calls into be- 
ing temporary and opportunistic alliances across class lines 
within a state, or across state lines within a class. Along both 
axes, the vectoral class comes to dominate all others in its 
ability to make and break alliances at will, through its domi- 
nation of the vector, the very means of exchanging the rep- 
resentation of identity or the expression of interest. 

e productive classes are hampered in their ability to de- [37SI 
velop alliances, even among their own kind, but particularly 
with the productive classes of other states of differing trajec- 
tories of development. The productive classes mostly stiU 
exist within national envelopes, having come to perceive 
their interests and desires to date within the limits of na- 
tional identity rather than class expressions of a transversal 

The state machine in the overdeveloped and underdevel- [376I 
oped world aUke is losing its ability to incorporate the inter- 
ests of the productive classes in the form of a compromise 
with local ruling interests. The ruling classes everywhere 
abandon their compromises within the state, at the expense 
of the productive classes. This both attenuates and erodes 
the representation of interest in terms of nationalism. The 


productive classes everywhere retreat behind nationalism at 
the point at which it becomes incapable of securing any but 
the most illusory representations of desire. 

[3771 The puncturing of national envelopes develops unevenly. 
The productive classes in the overdeveloped world maintain 
their power to slow the free flow of food and goods from 
the underdeveloped world and to maintain opportunities for 
work that might otherwise benefit both the ruling and pro- 
ducing classes of the underdeveloped world. But this only 
hampers the ability of the productive classes of the overde- 
veloped world to form alliances with the productive classes 
of the underdeveloped world, and encourages the produc- 
tive classes of the underdeveloped world to embrace their 
own rulers as representing their interests. 

[378I Differences emerge also in the politics of developing a 
suprastate apparatus capable of representing interests on a 
regional or global scale. In the underdeveloped world, the 
productive classes may identify their interests with local cap- 
itaUst or pastoralist interests, who struggle to use suprastate 
organs as a means to open up the markets of the overdevel- 
oped world to their goods and food to the same degree as 
they are forced to open their territories to ruling interests 
from the overdeveloped world, particularly as represented 
via the suprastate organs that the ruling class of the overde- 
veloped world disproportionately control. 

[3791 Vl^hile the overdeveloped world remains relatively closed to 
the objects produced in underdeveloped world, it thereby 
becomes a magnet for its subjects. Many members of the 


productive classes of the underdeveloped world seek to mi- 
grate, legally or illegally, to the overdeveloped world. As the 
overdeveloped world wiU not take its goods, thus causing 
under-employment and migration, so too it refuses to em- 
brace this migration that it has itself unleashed. Migration 
further strains the potential for alliances between the pro- 
ductive classes of the overdeveloped and underdeveloped 
worlds, as each sees in the other a foreigner opposed to his 
or her local identity. 

To the extent that the underdeveloped world finds any op- [3801 
portunity for development in spite of all obstacles, it finds 
itself the object of the surplus-seeking interests of the vec- 
toralist class. Where other ruling classes merely want to ex- 
ploit the labor or resources of the developing world, and are 
more or less indiflferent to its cultural expression and subjec- 
tive Ufe, the vectoraUst class seeks to turn the productive 
classes all over the world into consumers of its commodified 
culture, education and communication. This only further 
hardens resistance to the abstraction of the world and the 
retreat to nationalism or localism as a representation of in- 

But what of the hacker class as a class? Where do its inter- [3811 
ests lie in all of these globalizing developments? The interest 
of the hacker class lies first and foremost in the free expan- 
sion of the vectors of communication, culture and knowl- 
edge around the globe. Only through the free abstraction of 
the flow of information from local prejudice and contingent 
interests can its virtuality be fully realized. Only when free 
to express itself through the exploration and combination 


of any and every kind of knowledge, anywhere and ev- 
erywhere in the world can the hacker class realize its poten- 
tial, for itself and for the world. 

[382] Th ere is a stark difference between the free abstraction of 
the flow of information and its abstraction under the rule of 
the commodity and in the interests of the vectoral class. 
The commodification of information produces nothing but 
a new global scarcity of information, restricting the poten- 
tial for its free expression and widening inequalities that 
limit the free virtuaUty of the vector. The hacker class op- 
poses the actual form of the vector in the name of its virtual 
form, not in the name of a romantic desire to return to a 
world safe behind state envelopes and local identities. 

[3831 Th e vectoral spread of commodified information produces 
both the commodification of things and the commodifica- 
tion of desire. This heightens awareness of a global exploita- 
tion that benefits the ruling classes of the overdeveloped 
world, but it does so by representing injustice only as mate- 
rial inequality. The producing classes of the overdeveloped 
and underdeveloped worlds come to measure themselves 
against representations of each other. One despises the 
other for what it has — and itself for what it lacks. One de- 
spises the other for what it wants — and itself what it has to 

[381*1 In the underdeveloped world arises envy and resentment; 
in the overdeveloped world, fear and bigotry. Even when the 
productive classes become aware of the vectoral dimension 
to their exploitation, they represent their interests purely in 
local or national terms, and become deaf to the contradic- 


tions between different local interests. The struggle for an 
abstract expression of the interests of the global producing 

classes finds itself beset by thickets of local and particular in- 
terest that refuse reconciliation, but which class awareness 
on a global scale is not abstract and multiple enough to em- 

e hacker class always finds its interest in the free produc- [38SI 
tivity of information subordinated to the interests of the 
vectoral class in extracting a surplus from the hack and from 
furthering only those hacks that generate a surplus. But it 
also finds that the vectoral class recruits more and more sub- 
jects into this world in which they appear to themselves as 
nothing more than what they lack, thus leading the produc- 
tive classes into the thicket of particular and local represen- 
tations, which are more and more the product of nothing 
but an abstract and universalizing vector. 

As difficult as it may be, the hacker class can commit itself [3661 
to the free alliance of productive classes everywhere, and 
can make its modest contribution to overcoming the local 
and contingent interests that pit the productive classes 
everywhere against themselves. This contribution may be 
technical or cultural, objective or subjective, but it can ev- 
erywhere take the form of hacking out the virtuality that a 
firee global abstraction would express as an alternative to the 
commodified subjection that both local and global domina- 
tion by private property represents. 

wommodity production is in transition from the domina- [3871 
tion of capital as property to the domination of information 
as property. The theory of the transition to a world beyond 


commodity production has yet to make this same transition. 
This body of theory has been through two phases, which 
correspond to two kinds of error In the first phase, when 
theory was in the hands of the workers' movement, it fe- 
tishized the economic infrastructure of the social formation. 
In the second phase, when theory was in the hands of the 
academic radicals, it fetishized the superstructures of cul- 
ture and ideology. Theory of the first kind reduces the su- 
perstructure to being a reflection of the economy; theory of 
the second kind awards the superstructure a relative auton- 
omy. Neither grasps the fundamental changes in commod- 
ity production that render obsolete this understanding of 
the social formation or the new kinds of class struggle now 
emerging under the sign of the domination of information 
as property. Property is a concept that occupies a Uminal, 
undecidable place between economy and culture. Our task 
today is to grasp the historical development of commodity 
production from the point of view of property, fulcrum on 
which not only infrastructure and superstructure hinge, but 
also the class struggle. 

a theory of the vector as class theory. This theory offers at 
one and the same time an abstraction through which the 
vector as a force of abstraction at work in the world can be 
grasped, as well as a critical awareness of the chasm be- 
tween the virtual powers of the vector and its actual limita- 
tions under the reign of the vectoral class. From this emer- 
gent perspective, past attempts to change the world appear 
as mere interpretations. Present interpretations, even those 
that claim filiations to the historical tradition, appear as cap- 

the renewal of history, as hacker history, emerges 


tives of the commodification of information under the reign 
of the vectoral class. 

In this tiresome age, when even the air melts into airwaves, [3891 
where all that is profane is packaged as if it were profimdity, 
the possibility yet emerges to hack into mere appearances 
and make off with them. There are other worlds and they 
are this one. 



[007] Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations (New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1995), p. 145. Throu^om A Hacker Manifesto, certain pro- 
tocols of reading are applied to the various textual archives on 
which it draws, and which call for some explanation. It is not so 
much a "symptomatic" reading as a homeopathic one, turning 
texts against their own limitations, imposed on them by their 
conditions of production. For instance, there is an industry in 
the making, within the education business, around the name 
of Deleuze, from which he may have to be rescued. His is a phi- 
losophy not restricted to what is, but open to what could be. 
In Negotiations, he can be found producing concepts to open 
up the political and cultural terrain, and providing lines along 
which to escape from state, market, party and other traps of 
identity and representation. His tastes were aristocratic — lim- 
ited to the educational culture of his place and time — and his 
work lends itself to the trap of purely formal elaboration of the 
kind desired by the Anglo-American educational market partic- 
ularly. One does better to take Deleuze from behind and give 
him mutant offspring by immaculate conception. Which was, 
after all, Deleuze 's own procedure. He can be turned away 
from his own sedentary habits. 

[Oil] Guy Debord, Society cf the Spectacle (Detroit: Black and Red, 
1983), 164. This classic work in the crypto-Marxist tradition 
sets the standard for a critical thought in action. Debord's text is 
so designed that attempts to modify its theses inevitably moder- 


ate them, and thus reveal the modifier's complicity with the 
"spectacular society" that Debord so (anti)spectacularly con- 
demns. It is a work that can only be honored by a complete 
reimagining of its theses on a more abstract basis, a procedure 
Debord himself applied to Marx, and which forms the basis of 
the crypto-Marxist procedure . 
[021] Arthur Kroker and Michael A. Weinstein, Data Trash: The The- 
ory of the Virtual doss (New York: St Martin's, 1994), p. 6. The 
great merit of this book is to have grasped the class dimension 
to the rise of intellectual property. It remains only to examine 
intellectual property as property to arrive at what K+W leave 
uncharted — the class composition of the new radical forces that 
might oppose it. Data Trash identifies the new ruling class for- 
mation as the "virtual class," whereas A Hacker Manifesto prefers 
not to ofier the virtual up as semantic hostage to the enemy. 


[024] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, "Manifesto of the Communist 
Party," in The Revohuions of 1848: PoUtical Writings, vol. 1, ed. 
David Fernbach (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978), pp. 98, 86. 
Karatani would see the property question coming fi-om Marx, 
but the state ownership answer as belonging to Engels, and 
a distortion of Marx's whole trajectory. See Kolin Karatani, 
Transcritique: On Kant and Marx (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 
2003). A Hacker Manifesto is clearly neither an orthodox Marxist 
tract nor a post-Marxist repudiation, but rather a crypto-Marx- 
ist reimagining of the materialist method for practicing theory 
within history. From Marx one might take the attempt to dis- 
cover abstraction at work in the world, as an historical process, 
rather than as merely a convenient category in thought with 
which to create a new intellectual product. Crypto-Marxist 
thought might hew close to the multiplicity of the time of ev- 
eryday life, which calls for a reinvention of theory in every mo- 
ment, in fidelity to the moment, rather than a repetition of a 
representation of a past orthodoxy, or a self-serving "critique" 


of that representation in the interests of making Marx safe for 
the educational process and its measured, repetitive time. 

[031] Critical Art Ensemble, The Electronic Disturbance (New York: 
Autonomedia, 1994), pp. 16-17. See also Critical Art Ensemble, 
The Molecular Invasion (New York: Autonomedia, 2002). This 
group discover, through their always-inventive practice, just 
what needs to be thought at the nexus of information and 
property, and provide useful tools for beginning just such a 
project. Their work is particularly illuminating in regard to the 
commodification of genetic information — a frontline activity 
for the development of the vectoral class. All that is required is 
a deepening of the practice of thinking abstractly. Together 
with groups, networks and collaborations such as Adilkno, 
Ctheory, EDT, Institute for Applied Autonomy, 1/ O/D, Luther 
Blissett Project, Mongrel, Nettime, Oekonux, Old Boys' Net- 
work, Openflows, Public Netbase, subRosa, Rhizome, ®™ark, 
Sarai, The Thing, VNS Matrix and The Yes Men, Critical Art 
Ensemble form a movement of sorts, where art, politics and 
theory converge in a mutual critique of each other. These 
groups have only a "family resemblance" to each other. Each 
shares a characteristic with at least one other, but not necessar- 
ily the same characteristic. A Hacker Manifesto is among other 
things an attempt to abstract from the practices and concepts 
they produce. See also Josephine Bosma et al.. Readme! Filtered 
by Nettime (New York: Autonomedia, 1999). 

[032] Naomi Klein, No Logo (London: Harper Collins, 2000), p. 35. 
See also Naomi Klein, Fences and Windows (New York: Picador, 
2002). This exemplary work of joumalism discovers the nexus 
between the brand and logo as emblems of the hollowing out 
of the capitalist economy in the overdeveloped world, and the 
relegation of the great bulk of capitalist production to the 
sweatshops of the underdeveloped world. We see clearly here 
that capital has been superseded as an historical formation in all 
but name. Klein stops short at the description of the symptoms, 
however. She does not oEFer quite the right diagnosis. But then 


that isn't the task she sets herself. There can be no one book, no 
master thinker for these times. What is called for is a practice of 
combining heterogeneous modes of perception, thought and 
feeling, dififerent styles of researching and writing, different 
kinds of connection to different readers, proliferation of infor- 
mation across different media, all practiced within a gift econ- 
omy, expressing and elaborating differences, rather than broad- 
casting a dogma, a slogan, a critique or line. The division of 
genres and types of writing, like all aspects of the intellectual 
division of labor, are antithetical to the autonomous develop- 
ment of the hacker class as class, and work only to reinforce the 
subordination of knowledge to property by the vectoral class. 

[035] Gregory Bateson, Steps Towards an Ecology of Mind (New York: 
Ballantine, 1972). Bateson grasped the link between informa- 
tion and nature on an abstract level, even as he shrank from ex- 
amining the historical forces that forged just this link. And yet 
he is a pioneer in hacker thought and action in his disregard for 
the property rules of academic fields. He skips gaily from biol- 
ogy to anthropology to epistemology, seeing in the divisions 
between fields, even between statements, an ideological con- 
struction of the world as fit only for zoning and development in 
the interests of property. At the moment when the foundations 
of the ideology of the vectoral class were in formation, in infor- 
mation science, computer science, cybernetics, and when infor- 
mation was being discovered as the new essence of social and 
even natural phenomena, Bateson alone grasped the critical use 
of these nascent concepts. 

[046] Antonio Negri, The Politics of Subversion: A Manifesto for the 
Twenty-First Century (Cambridge: Polity, 1989), p. 203. Negri's is 
a living Marxism, but one that seeks to graft the new onto 
the old corpus at the wrong junctures. It is less useful to 
repurpose Marx's writings on immaterial labor and real sub- 
sumption than to revisit the central question of property, and 
reimagine the class relation in terms of the historical develop- 


ment of the property form. Negri, who had so much to say 

about the recomposition of the working class in the overdevel- 
oped world, and how the energies of the productive classes 
drive the commodity economy from below, does not quite find 
a new language adequate to the historical moment, when labor 
is pushed to the periphery and an entirely new class formation 
arises in the overdeveloped world. 


[051] Stanley Aronowitz, The Knowledge Factory (Boston: Beacon 
Press, 2000), p. 10. Critical theory that does not turn upon its 
own implication within the commodification of knowledge is 
merely hypocritical theory. In Aronowitz we find the essential 
data for establishing that this instimtional context is not a neu- 
tral one. He might also be an exemplary figure for imagining 
ways of configuring a practice within education that advances 
the cause of knowledge. 

[057] Bill Readings, The University in Ruins (Cambridge, Mass.: Har- 
vard University Press, 1996), p. 191. The limit to this intriguing 
critique is that it discovers symptoms within education of pro- 
cesses going on without that it does not trace beyond the walls 
of the academy, into the rise of the vectoralist class. Readings 
imagines a free and open process of inquiry, but it is limited 
to the humanities and to quite specific kinds of humanities 
scholarship at that, thereby only reinforcing prejudices between 
"fields." His version of a fi^e and open practice of knowledge is 
only imaginable within the homogenous, segmented and con- 
tinuous time of the educational apparatus. Readings proposes a 
narrative in which the Utopian promise of education is the best 
of all possible worlds for knowledge. Knowledge is betrayed 
only in the era of "globalization," which is when the vectoral 
class commodifies it under the cover of the rhetoric of "excel- 
lence." This ignores the long history of education as a regime 
of scarcity. Readings naturalizes education as the home of 


knowledge, thus obscuring it from critique. This is ultimately a 
work not of critical but of hypocritical theory, unable to exam- 
ine its own conditions of production. 
[062] Karl Marx, "Critique of the Gotha Program," in The First Inter- 
national and After: Political Writings, vol. 3, ed. David Fernbach 
(Harmondsworth; Penguin Books, 1974), p. 347. With the 
canonization — and commodification — of Marx's major works 
as fit matter for the educational process, a crypto-Marxist proj- 
ect of renewal might best look to the texts that the educational 
apparatus considers marginal. Texts, for instance, that are 
bound to the events of their time, rather than which could be 
taken to unfold in something like the universal and homoge- 
nous time of the education industry. This particular text has the 
added joy of being a place where Marx most clearly distances 
himself fi-om the "Marxists" who were already turning critique 
into dogma. It is the place where Marx himself is already a 
crypto-Marxist, differentiating his thought from any callow rep- 

[069] Alexander Bard and Jan Soderqvist, Netocracy: The New Power 
Elite and Life after Capitalism (London: Reuters, 2002), p. 107. See 
also Slavoj Zizek, Organs without Bodies: On Deleuze and Conse- 
quences (New York: Roudedge, 2004), pp. 192-195. In what B+S 
propose as an emerging "informationalist" order, the reigning 
ideology, or "assumed constant," is no longer God or Man but 
the Network. As this is a transitional time, there is turbulence, 
as the Humanist constant collapses and a new constant strug- 
gles to emerge. There is the deconstruction of the Humanist 
constant, its mere displacement as Language or the Subject, 
and there are desperate attempts to shore it up — ^what B+S call 
hyper-egoism, hyper-capitalism, hyper-nationalism. The decline 
of capitalist era social institutions is the sign for B + S of a rise 
of informationalism and what they term a "netocratic" ruling 
class. The media, released from their dependence on the state, 
devalue politics. Media become a separate sphere, no longer 
standing in a relation of representation to a bourgeois public 


sphere. Information has become a new kind of religious cult. 
The fields of economics, infonomics, and biology are merging 
around the concept of information as pure quantity. Quality 
has been all but extinguished as a value. But information is 
not the same as knowledge. Information becomes a cheap and 
plentiful commodity, whereas what has value is exclusive 
knowledge, the eflFective overview, the timely synthesis. B + S ar- 
gue that an endless proliferation of information, viewpoints, 
and interests might work just as well as censorship and repres- 
sion in maintaining the new ruling class prerogatives. The aes- 
thetic and pohtical task is not to proliferate or to aggregate but 
to qualify — and this is the essence of netocratic power. B+S 
see a renegade faction of the netocratic class breaking ranks 
and going over to the side of the subordinate classes. Their 
netocratic class is an amalgam of the vectoralist and hacker in- 
terest, as they do not clearly distinguish these by asking the 
"property question." Like Himanen, they confuse the genu- 
inely innovative with the merely entrepreneurial. 
[070] Richard Stallman, quoted in Sam Williams, Free as in Freedom: 
Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software (Sebastapol, Calif: 
0'Re%, 2002), p. 76. See also Richard Stallman, Free Software, 
Free Society: Selected Essays (Boston: GNU Press, 2002). After an 
exemplary career hacking software, Stallman turned to hacking 
the politics of information. His Free Software movement chal- 
lenges the notion that copyright is a natural right. And yet he 
does not attack the vectoralist class head on. He uses copyright 
law against itself as the instrument for creating an enforceable 
fieedom, rather than use intellectual property law as enforce- 
able unfreedom. Stallman's General Public License insists not 
only that what is released under the license may be shared, but 
that modified versions that incorporate material issued under 
this license must also be free. While Stallman repeatedly states 
that he is not against business, he stakes out a quite dififerent 
understanding of an economy of information. For Stallman, 
the artificial scarcity created by hoarding information in unethi- 


cal. If he likes something, he wants to share it. Free software is 
based in the social advantage of cooperation and the ethical ad- 
vantage of respecting the user's freedom. It is explicitly a step 
toward a post-scarcity world. He sees free software as a prac- 
tical idealism that spreads freedom and cooperation — the 
"hacker ethic." He distinguishes Free Software from Open 
Source. Open Source is a development methodology; Free Soft- 
ware is a social movement. Stallman complements his practical 
efforts to spread free software under the General Public License 
with a critique of what has become of the copyright system. 
Stallman insists that in the United States copyright began not as 
a natural right but an artificial monopoly — originally for a lim- 
ited time. Copyright provides benefits to publishers and authors 
not for their own sake but for the common good. It was sup- 
posed to be an incentive to writing and publishing more. How- 
ever, writers must cede rights to publishers in order to get 
published. Writers do not own the means of production and 
distribution to realize the value of their works, and so they lose 
control over the product of their labor. As publishers accumu- 
late wealth in the form of exploitable copyrights, the legiti- 
mation of copyright shifts from the common interest of a com- 
munity of readers to a 'Tjalance" of interests between writers 
and readers. Or rather, between readers and publishers. Where 
copyright licensed temporary monopolies in the interests of the 
common good, the emerging regime of "intellectual property" 
rights protects the interests of publishers — of the vectoralist 
class — as an interest in and of itself. What had to be justified 
under copyright was the artificial monopoly; what has to be 
mystified under intellectual property is how it represents the 
"common interest." What, in any case, is being 'Tjalanced"? 
The reader's fi^edom to do whatever she or he wants with in- 
formation, or the reader's interest in the production of more of 
it? Under the intellectual property regime, only the latter is a 
"right," not the former. The reader's right is merely the right to 
purchase intellectual property. Even if we accept the dubious 


assumption that intellectual property maximizes production, 
what it maximizes is the production of unfreedom. Having lost 
the right to plagiarize and co-opt and modify works as they 
please, readers find their only right is to purchase works from 
publishers. Publishers then claim that anything that takes away 
their sales is "piracy." Authors find themselves no better off 
than readers (or listeners or viewers). We confront a vectoralist 
class that now claims its rights are paramount. The public good 
is to be measured by the margins of the vectorahst industries 
and by nothing else. Having secured its interests thus far, the 
vectoralist class then argues for complete enclosure within 
property of every aspect of information. They want to encrypt 
information, binding it artificially to particular material objects. 
They want criminal sanctions for anyone else who breaches this 
now absolute private property right. Patents, as Stallman points 
out, function very differently from copyrights, and yet the end 
result is the same — the securing of information as property that 
has equivalent value on the abstract terrain of conunodifica- 
tion. Unlike copyrights, patents are not automatic but have to 
be registered, producing a time-consuming lottery for hackers 
who sometimes never know who holds a patent on what. This 
is less of a burden for the vectoralist class. Vectoral businesses 
accumulate portfolios of patents and cross-license to one an- 
other, enhancing one another's quasi-monopoly position. For 
Stallman what is most galling about the enclosure of informa- 
tion within property is not so much a scarcity of innovation as a 
scarcity of cooperation — of the very practice of the gift that is 
central to the hacker ethic. 


[071] Steven Levy, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (New 
York: Penguin, 1994), p. 23. This is the classic joumalistic ac- 
count of the hacker as computer engineer, and the struggles of 
hackers to maintain the virtual space for the hack against the 
forces of commodified technology and education — and the 


looming behemoth of the military entertainment complex. A 
study of these exemplary stories quickly gives the lie to the ca- 
nard that only by making information property can "incen- 
tives" be introduced that will advance the development of new 
concepts and new technologies. The hackers at work in Levy's 
book produce extraordinary work out of desires shaped almost 
exclusively by the gift economy. The autonomous, self-generat- 
ing circuits of prestige of the gift economy produce self-gener- 
ating circuits of extraordinary innovation. 
[072] Pekka Himanen, The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Informa- 
tion Age (New York: Random House, 2001), pp. 7, 18, 13. If A 
Hacker Etkic seeks to resurrect the spirit of Max Weber, then A 
Hacker Manifesto offers a crypto-Marxist response. Himanen's 
excellent work has much to say on hacker time and its antithe- 
sis to commodified time, and yet Himanen still seeks to recon- 
cile the hacker with the vectoral class. He wilfully confuses 
the hacker with the "entrepreneur." The hacker produces the 
new; the entrepreneur merely discovers its price. In the vectoral 
economy, where much of what is on offer has no use value 
whatsoever, and exchange value is a mere speculative possibil- 
ity, the entrepreneur is a heroic figure when and if he or she can 
invent new necessities ex nihil. Here the "invisible hand" is a 
poker player's bluff. The entrepreneur merely reiterates unnec- 
essary necessity; the hacker expresses the virtual. The confu- 
sion of one with the other is an ideological sleight of hand 
meant to lend some glamor to the dismal necromancy of vec- 
toral power. 

[074] Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual (Durham: Duke Univer- 
sity Press, 2002), p. 30. Never was the virtual more delicately de- 
scribed, nor the difiSculty of opening a space for it within the 
vector, but outside the limit of communication. Massumi 
brings Deleuze's thought toward a really fruitful encounter 
with the space of the vector as an historical and physical space, 
rather than a merely philosophical and metaphysical one. But 


there is still the difficulty here of following Deleuze too far in 
the direction of a pure, creative metaphysics, which loses the 
capacity to understand itself as historical, as an expression of a 
possibility that arrives at a given moment. There is too neat a fit 
between the pure ontological plane at the heart of Deleuze's 
thought and the "disinterested" discursive space thought carves 
for itself within the closed world of education. 

[079] Ronald V. Bettig, Copyrighting Culture (Boulder: Westview, 
1996), p. 25. Coming out of the critical communications smdies 
tradition, this work covers useful ground in detailing how the 
emergent vectoral economy works, but which in its thinking 
seeks to collapse it back into the categories and experiences of 
the era in which capital dominated the commodity economy. 
Critical communications scholars are right in emphasizing the 
lack of autonomy culture and communication have fi'om the 
commodity economy, but wrong in thinking that this commod- 
ity economy can still be described in the language of capitalism. 
Attention to the problem of the economy specific to communi- 
cation and culture shows that what it broke fi^e from was pre- 
cisely a superseded conception of its commodity form. 

[083] Andrew Ross, Strange Weather: Culture, Science and Technology in 
the Age of Limits (London: Verso, 1991), p. 11. See also Andrew 
Ross, No Collar (New York: Basic Books, 2002). If journalism is 
the first draft of history, cultural studies is the second draft. Or 
at least, so it might be at its best, and Ross might be an exem- 
plar. Ross investigates the virtual dimension to the productivity 
of the productive classes. He discovers the class struggle over 
information across the length and breadth of the social factory. 
In everyday life, workers of all kinds struggle to produce mean- 
ing autonomously. The people make meaning, but not with the 
means of their own choosing. Cultural studies has hitherto 
only interpreted the interpretive powers of the productive 
classes; the point, however, is to make them an agent of 
change. Cultural studies was right in seeing phenomena in the 


cultural realm as not necessarily determined by events in a 

given economic "base," but wrong in giving little weight to the 
changes in the commodity form as it expanded to encompass 
information. Far from discovering a realm of "relative auton- 
omy" from the old class struggle, cultural studies discovered a 
realm saturated in the new class struggles around information 
as property, but had foresworn the very tools with which to 
analyze it as such. 


[091] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, What Is PUlosopk)i? (London: 
Verso, 1994), p. 96. Among other things, philosophy is a tool to 
be used to escape from the commodification of information as 
communication, but only when it escapes the commodification 
of knowledge as education as well. D+G describe in some- 
what formal, general terms the space of possibility of hacker 
thought. But their version of escape firom history can easily 
take on an aristocratic form, a celebration of singular works of 
high modernist art and artifice. These in turn are all too easily 
captured by the academic and cultural marketplace, as the de- 
signer goods of the over-educated. D + G all too easily become 
the intellectual's Dolce and Gabbana. 

[104] Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View 
(London: Verso, 2002), p. 125. Here Wood shows how what she 
calls "agrarian capitalism" preceded the rise of industrial cap- 
italism. One need not adopt all her positions in the various 
arguments among materialist historians to see the merit of 
treating commodity production historically, as having distinct 
phases. If it has had two phases — "agrarian" and "industrial" 
capital — why not a third? And why not, while we are at it, re- 
vise the terminology, from the point of view of the present 
conjuncture? Marxist scholarship of all kinds, in history, anthro- 
pology, sociology, political science, can be appropriated — and 
detoured — ^for a crypto-Marxist project, but this involves a very 


particular homeopathic practice of reading, which completes 
the critique begun in the text of the world by turning the 
world, in tum, against the text. This is a reading which appro- 
priates what is useful from heterogeneous discourses and syn- 
thesizes them in a writing that addresses the hacker class within 
the temporality of everyday life, rather than addressing the 
reified time and space of education. 
[117] James Boyle, Shamans, Software, and Spleens: Law and the Con- 
struction of the Information Society (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard 
University Press, 1996), p. 9. A major strength of Boyle's book is 
to point out the contradictions within the economic theory that 
this vectoralist age has inherited from the ideologues of the 
capitalist era, contradictions concerning the very concept of in- 
formation itself. When viewed from the point of view of eco- 
nomic "efficiency," information should be free; when viewed 
from the point of view of "incentive," information should be a 
commodity. Boyle also usefully points out that the identifica- 
tion of "originality" as the goveming principle of the creation 
of new property, and an author as the subject responsible for 
bringing this new object into the world, necessarily cuts out 
from under it the contribution of collective production of in- 
formation resources to any and every hack. He clearly shows 
how what he calls "author talk" is actually contrary to the 
hacker interest. In the long run it puts information in the hands 
of the vectoralist class, who own the means of realizing its 
value. Boyle even, tentatively, raises the possibility of a class 
analysis of information. He does not pursue it. He does not 
see that the acknowledgement of the collective production of 
information — Lautreamont's plagiarism — ^is already the equiv- 
alent in the information realm of Marx's theory of surplus 
value. For Marx, the products of second nature are the col- 
lective product of the working class. Likewise, the products 
of third nature are the collective product of the hacker class. 
Moreover, Boyle falls short of a class analysis of the ruling class 


when he mistakes the interests of individual corporations for 
the vectoral class interest. A Microsoft or Time Warner will try 
to use the laws of intellectual property to their advantage de- 
pending on the case at hand, but the lack of a consistent posi- 
tion does not vitiate a class interest in having access to a legal 
area in which rival vectoral interests spar over the particulars 
but are agreed over the essentials — that information belongs, as 
private property, in their collective hands. 


[130] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, What Is Philosophy? (London: 
Verso, 1990), p. 108. It is often overlooked that the departure 
point for this text is a critique of the great mass of punditry and 
mere opinion within communication. Or in other words, that it 
departs fixjm a critique of the surfaces of everyday life under 
the rule of the vectoral class. For all its merits, however, D + G's 
turn to philosophy, art, and science on their own is not enough. 
Nor is it enough to discover the constitutive differences among 
these three sovereign means of hacking the virtual. The miss- 
ing link is an analysis of the way art, science and philosophy are 
debased into mere serviceable tools for vectoral power. 

[135] Michael Perelman, Class Warfare in the Information Age (New 
York: St. Martin's, 1998), p. 88. See also Michael Perelman, Steal 
This Idea (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002). Nothing was 
more damaging to Marxist thought than the division of labor 
that allowed economists within the education apparatus to ig- 
nore the cultural superstructures, while cultural studies ignored 
developments in the economy and claimed an exclusive right to 
the cultural superstructures. The result was that both missed a 
crucial development that passed between these two mutually 
alienated competences — the development of information as 
property. Perelman does useful work in debunking the emer- 
gent ideologies of the vectoralist class, but remains somewhat 
fixed in thinking the commodity economy in terms of its cap- 
italist phase only. 



[143] Friedrich Nietzsche, Unfashionahle Ohservations (Stanford; Stan- 
ford University Press, 1995), p. 80. By standing outside both cul- 
ture and education, Nietzsche was uniquely alive to the way 
both, as weak forms of power, nevertheless exerted a strong 
pressure in misshaping the bodies of those who practice them 
to their disciplines and procedures, and how they ofiered illu- 
sory compensations in the form of subjective identities for the 
inescapable fact that real power was elsewhere. Nietzsche, for 
all his foibles, points the hacker away from resentment and to- 
ward cunning, which is to say, away from the moral and toward 
the politicaL He is also, in the Birth of Tragedy, clearly the origi- 
nator of critical media theory. 

[150] GUles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, What Is Philosophy? (London: 
Verso, 1990), p. 169. One of the great merits of D + G's eccen- 
tric body of work is the way it cuts across the natural / social 
divide at a weird diagonal, breaking open the envelopes of self 
and society, tracing the threads that weave these apparently au- 
tonomous and self-centering bubbles into the biological, even 
the geological, not to mention the technical layers. While they 
are not alone in proposing a decentering of the self or the sub- 
ject, they are in more rarefied company in seeing the troubled 
and troubling boundaries of the social as also a zone to be 
traversed. D-l-G offer a line along which to think the recon- 
nection of hacker practices in very different domains of sci- 
ence, art and theory that might bypass the prejudices each 
holds concerning the other as yet another useless layer of nega- 
tive "identity." 


[165] Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 3 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1993), 
pp. 958-959. Here is the essential tension in Marx's thought to 
which crypto-Marxist thinking might offer modulated refi-ains 
but does not escape. For all its violence and exploitation, the 
commodity economy advances toward virtuality by multiply- 


ing the resources with which it might be revealed, but cannot 
of itself reveal it. Moreover, capitalist society is not the last 
word in the historical development of necessity. Vectoralist so- 
ciety develops out of it, and against it, abstracting the regime of 
property to the point where it makes a necessity of the scarcity 
of information. But this is the point at which necessity is no 
longer material necessity, based in the ontological facticity of 
things. It is based only on the ideological chimera that makes 
information appear as a mere thing. There is no such thing as 
"late" capitalism, only "early" vectoralism. And this is good 
news. The historical conditions for the "true realm of fieedom" 
are only just beginning to appear on the horizon. 

[170] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Labor of Dionysus (Minneap- 
olis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), p. 9. This is an essen- 
tial point — everyday life becomes a social factory, but its reverse 
is no less significant. In the overdeveloped world, the "factory" 
becomes social. Work becomes a form of constrained play, as 
the vectoral class tries to find ways to trap and channel vir- 
tuality itself. It should not be forgotten, however, that in the 
underdeveloped world, the struggles of farmers and workers 
continue unabated. We are a very long way firom the real sub- 
sumption of all aspects of life everywhere under the sign of the 
vectoral economy. But time is multiple, heterogeneous. There 
is no reason not to experiment with public networks, data re- 
gifting, temporary autonomous zones, strategies for tactical 
media — ^right now. Nor is there any reason to think that the 
leading innovations in freeing the vector from the vectoral class 
might not come firom the underdeveloped world. 

[171] Georg Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness (London: Merlin, 
1983), p. 89. This text narrowly misses being a crypto-Marxist 
classic. Taken on their own, Lukacs's analyses of the reification 
of labor are a masterpiece of disceming abstraction at work in 
the world, as at once a class force and an historical force. Here 
the text opens itself up to discovering its own moment in the 
ongoing abstraction of history. But then Lukacs retreats, dis- 


sembles, and finally — capitulates. The text still lends itself to a 
crypto-Marxist reading, which deciphers the lines along which 
the text points to abstraction as an opening, as the virtual, no 
matter how vigorously the author is elsewhere shoving the 
light it emits into the sealed file of an orthodoxy. 
[172] Felix Guattari, Chaosmosis: An Eihico- Aesthetic Paradigm (Sydney: 
Power Publications, 1995), p. 21. Where Marx sees living and 
dead labor as an ensemble, Guattari likewise sees human and 
inhuman subjectivity as an ensemble. Where for Marx money, 
the general equivalent, makes it possible for various concrete 
labors to be comparable as abstract labor, Guattari points to- 
ward an abstract and machinic subjectivity made possible by 
the vector. Where Marx sees the object as commodity as the 
fetishized product of collective labor, Guattari sees the sub- 
ject as individual as fetishized product of collective subjectivity. 
With the shift from capitalist to vectoralist commodity produc- 
tion, Guattari's insistence on subjectivity as a collective and pro- 
ductive force that extends way beyond the boundaries of the in- 
dividual subject may be no less useful for demystifying the 
labors of the hacker class than Marx's analysis was for demysti- 
fying the labors of the working class. The hacker's residuals, no 
less than the worker's wages, only appear as a fair and fiee ex- 
change on the open market. Look behind the individual reward 
for individual effort and one finds the great collective ensemble 
of production which is not in possession of what it produces, 
and receives far less than the total value of its product. This en- 
semble of productive forces is no less than the three produc- 
tive classes — farmers, workers, hackers — at their labors, toiling 
away at the second nature which is their own past efibrts cast in 
material form. With the emergence of a third nature, where in- 
formation announces its break with necessity, its potential to be 
fi«e of the commodity form, the possibility arises not of an 
overthrow but of an escape tcova the fetish of subject and ob- 
ject, and the installation of a free collective subjectivity in the 
world. Guattari's life-long experiment in the production of col- 


lective subjectivity and of subjectivity as collective production 
points the way. 

[175] Slavoj Zizek, Repeating Lenin (Zagreb; Bastard Books, 2001), 
p. 82. What Jerry Seinfeld's observational humor is to comedy, 
Zizek's observational theory is to criticism. Some of these ob- 
servations are right on the money: rather than use the courts to 
contain Microsoft's monopoly, the monopoly itself could be so- 
cialized. His work has the great merit of avoiding problems 
that plague others in the post-Marxist camp. Etienne Balibar, 
Chantal MouflFe, Ernesto Laclau and Alain Badiou all in ■various 
ways treat the political as an autonomous realm. Zizek's "Le- 
ninism" is a question of maintaining a tension between the eco- 
nomic dynamism of the commodity form and political inter- 
vention. Zizek is aware of the break that information creates in 
the realm of scarcity, and that this has both political and eco- 
nomic implications. His call to "repeat" Lenin is not meant to 
invoke the old dogmas, but the possibility of a synthesis of a 
critical political economy, political organization and popular de- 
sires. See also Slavoj Zizek, The Spectre Is Still Around! (Zagreb: 
Bastard Books, 1998). 


[176] P. J. Proudhon, What Is Property? An Inquiry into the Principle of 
Right and of Government, 
proudhon-property-is-theft.html. As Lautreamont says, Prou- 
dhon's text, which would challenge the market, ends up be- 
ing the wrapping paper for goods sold there pretty soon after. 
Times change. With the evolution of the vector, the rise of a 
digital telesthesia, Proudhon's famous line could be plagiarized 
and reversed: theft is property. A generation raised on the inter- 
net already conceives of all information as potentially a gift, 
and a gift which deprives no-one in its sharing. File sharing 
culture has not yet moved on, from plagiarized Proudhon to 
plagiarizing Marx, and thinking through the more profound 


challenge that the vectoralization of all information poses to 
outworn notions of property as scarcity. It seems appropriate to 
answer Proudhon's question by giving the url to an digital ver- 
sion of the text that frustrates the question. In its reproduci- 
bility, the digital is always neither theft nor property, unless the 
artifice of the law makes it so. The application of this line of 
thought to the text at hand would certainly not trouble it's au- 
thor. It's not so much a question of "steal this book," which 
merely transgresses existing forms of property, as "gift this 
book," which might point beyond property iself. 

[195] Matthew Fuller, Behind the Blip; Essays in the Culture of Software 
(New York: Autonomedia, 2003). Drawing on his collaborations 
with Nettime, Mongrel and I/O/D that attempt to hack con- 
temporary digital culture in the interests of a plural and open 
flow of information. Fuller presents a unique synthesis of 
Debord and Deleuze (via Vilem Flusser) with creative informa- 
tion practices. In the realization of the potential of the hacker 
class as class, the construction of new forms for the production 
of information has a crucial place. Fuller's critique seeks out 
objectification within the very form of the information inter- 
face. Where Stallman concentrates on the production of free 
software. Fuller and fiiends investigate the intimate vectors that 
connect human to inhuman production. 

[202] Asger Jorn, The Natural Order and Other Texts (Aldershot: 
Ashgate, 2002), p. 171. This is an artist's rather than a thinker's 
book, by a sometime member of the Situationist International 
alongside Debord and Vaneigem, but in Jorn's work we have a 
consistent struggle to create a practice in which thought, art 
and politics might be one movement, committed to the remak- 
ing of the world. 

[211] Stewart Home, Neoism, Plagiarism and Praxis (Edinburgh: AK 
Press, 1995), p. 21. Laced with a fierce but joyful humor. 


Home's provocations form a bridge between the attempts, run- 
ning from Dada to Fluxus and the Situationist Intemational, to 
free creation from subjective authorship and objective property, 
and the more contemporary concern of aesthetics to disavow 
originality and the formal and detached status of the artwork 
that stem, perhaps, from Conceptual Art. 
[219] Walter Benjamin, "Critique of Violence," in One "Way Street 
(London: Verso, 1997), p. 144. In this luminous, cryptic text, 
Benjamin — that original crypto-Marxist — locates the conditions 
for free community outside the realm of representation. Every- 
where in Benjamin's work he is looking for the ways and means 
to use the information vector as a means of expression, to free 
it from representation. He is perhaps the first to grasp the 
power of reproduction to elude the "aura" of property and 
scarcity, and to see in the vector new tools for a poetry made by 
all. His vast and useless erudition has become a permanent ob- 
ject of fascination within education, however, and can obscure 
his struggle for an applied thought, in and of the vector, in and 
of its time. 

[223] Comte de Lautreamont, Maldoror and the Complete Works 
(Boston: Exact Change Press, 1994), p. 240. In Lautreamont, all 
of literature is common property, and so plagiarism is not theft, 
but merely the application of the principle: to each according to 
his needs, from each according to his abilities. Lautreamont 
hides nothing, passes nothing oflF as his own, and transforms 
what he takes, producing the new out of the diflFerence. Where 
the Surrealists loved him for his high Gothic shadows, the 
Situationists correctly identify his challenge to authorship as a 
radical breakthrough in poetry that can be generalized — ^poetry 
could be made by all. 

[228] Adilkno, Cracking the Movement (New York: Autonomedia, 
1994), p. 13. See also Adilkno, Media Archive (New York: 
Autonomedia, 1998). Adilkno, or the Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Illegal Knowledge, is one of a small number of 


groups who manage to discover and think through the transfor- 
mation of the landscape of everyday hfe toward its vectoral 
form. In this work, they discover that the squatter's movement 
in Amsterdam was not just a matter of taking and holding 
physical space, but was also fought out in vectoral space. They 
will go on to think this vectoral space in its own terms, rather 
than as something always dependent on, and necessarily re- 
ferred back to, some kind of non-vectoral social relation. They 
put an end to the sociology of media, so that we might begin to 
question the media of sociology. 

[231] Kodwo Eshun, More Brilliant Than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic 
Fiction (London: Quartet Books, 1998), p. 122. Eshun's book is 
unique in creating for what Lester Bowie called the Great Black 
Music a politics of non-identity open to the future, rather than 
a politics of identity bound to tradition. Eshun reimagines mu- 
sic as memory of the virtual itself by cutting a singular path 
through techno, hip hop, dub and what he calls "jazz fission." 
He mentions only in passing, apropos the conditions of possi- 
bility for dub, that it achieves its multiplicities of collective 
hacking precisely because it explores vectors of telesthesia with 
complete indiEFerence to the laws of copyright. This observa- 
tion could be extended to his whole study, and even beyond 
music to other vectors along which the virtual might flow and 
the hack might cut into it. The open productivity Eshun finds in 
the outlaw margins outside the vectorahst ownership of music 
remains marginal precisely because of the stranglehold of 
property on information. Nevertheless, the particles of the vir- 
tual Eshun finds in the pores of the ancien regime of intellectual 
property, resonate as samples of a world to come. Eshun knows 
this atopian realm is outside of identities of the subject, but 
does not quite grasp the other condition, that of being outside 
identities of the object as property represents it. 

[232] Geert Lovink, Dark Fiber: Tracking Critical Internet Culture (Cam- 
bridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002). See also Geert Lovink, Uncanny 


Networks (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002). More than any- 
one, Lovink (a former member of Adilkno) has shed the useless 
baggage of leftist cultural critique while constantly reinventing 
a practice of free media than can develop its own critical edge. 
His practices of collaborative work in emergent media are a sig- 
nal example of what a hacker politics might be that can work in 
a heterogeneous space between the technical hack, the cultural 
hack, the political hack, and which can combine the abundant 
hardware resources of the overdeveloped world with the more 
astute and reflective practices of the underdeveloped world. 
Lovink practices a kind of "tactical theory," which abandons 
the big picture for concepts that function locally and tempo- 
rally. His anarchist instincts blend with a joyous philosophical 
pragmatism in treating the crypto-Marxist tradition with hu- 
mor and irreverence. There may, however, be a limit to how ef- 
fective this tactic may be in aggregating the dispersed expres- 
sions of the "new desire" that the hacker class can identify on 
the horizon and articulate for their moment in history. 


[240] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, Mass.: 
Harvard University Press, 2000), p. 214. Hardt and Negri's Em- 
pire takes a strange turn early on, when it discusses the legal 
framework of an emerging international order. On one level, 
this is a standard Marxist analytic technique: Look to the trans- 
formations of the visible superstructures for underlying infra- 
structural changes otherwise hard to detect. But what is curious 
is the particular legal infrastructure chosen for attention. Had 
they chosen to look at the development of intellectual property 
law, H+N might have come closer to a revival of class analysis. 
By choosing instead intemational law and sovereignty, they pur- 
sue another important but not necessarily dominant dynamic at 
work in the world. Following the anti-imperialist rather than 
anti-capitalist strand in critical thought, they foreground the 
struggle between the vector and the envelope. This is an histori- 


cal conflict, partially captured in D+G's concepts of deterrito- 
rialization and reterritorialization. It is by making a fetish of the 
politics of vector and enclosure, and ignoring innovations in 
class formation and class analysis that one ends up with a sterile 
opposition between "neo-liberalism" and "anti-globalization." 
In H+N, what is innovative is that they in effect shift the axis of 
conflict toward two competing forms of vectoralization — Em- 
pire versus the multitude. However, since the former is in some 
ways considered a form of autonomous "self envelopment," it 
doesn't escape the flirtation with romantic discourses of people 
and place that dogs the anti-globalization movement. 

[243] Guy Debord, Complete Cinematic Works (Oakland: AK Press, 
2003), p. 150. One of the virtues of Debord's writings is its deli- 
cate, even melancholy awareness of the sea swell of time, and 
how the lived experience of time sets the agenda for critical 
thought and action, not the other way around. In order to resist 
the authoritarian temptation to seize the moment, as if it were 
an object, any political movement must know how to bide its 
time. Debord's subtle approach to time is nowhere better ex- 
pressed than in his film works, which lay out the whole archive 
of cinema as a landscape where history itself lies waiting in the 
flickering shadows as the virtuality of the image. 

[246] Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations (New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1995), p. 127. Deleuze supported, for instance, the free ra- 
dio movement, which revealed all too well the ambiguities of 
a politics that favors the vectoral, which furthers movement. 
Free radio might have started as something cultural, as a form 
of "resistance," but was quickly colonized by the forces of 

[251] Luther Blissett, Q (London: Heinemann, 2003), p. 635. This 
remarkable historical allegory, a "popular" fiction in the best 
sense of the word, is a Brechtian learning-text for an emergent 
hacker sensibility. The book's protagonist, who goes by many 
names and identities, discovers through struggling within and 
against it how the vector creates possibilities, both for reinforc- 

ing the grip of necessity and blowing it wide open. Luther 
Bhssett is itself a name of many, a collective pseudonym, ad- 
vanced as a tactic for overcoming the grip of property that sus- 
tains the aura of authorship. 
[254] Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas (New York: Random 
House, 2001), p. 6. Information is a strange thing to make the 
basis of property. It is as Lessig notes a non-rivalrous resource. 
Most arguments about intellectual property pitch advocates of 
private property against advocates of state regulation. But, ar- 
gues Lessig, before thinking market or state, think controlled or 
free. For Lessig, free resources have always been crucial to inno- 
vation and creativity. Lessig offers a useful distinction between 
three layers of the vector. He identifies the tension between the 
physical layer and the content layer. But he pays close attention 
to what he calls the "code" layer — the software that in this digi- 
tal world links the content to its material substrate. The story 
of the internet is a rare story in which monopoly control over 
all of the layers broke down — ^for a while. The genius of the 
internet is that the code layer allows any kind of content to 
swirl across its physical layer. It enables all kinds of devices to 
be built at either end. Free information is crucial to creating 
new information. It's as true of computer code as of songs and 
stories. But it takes more than information. You need access. 
You need a vector. You need a physical communication system 
that isn't choked off by monopoly control. And you need to 
know the code. Although Lessig doesn't go there, one can think 
of melody and harmony, grammar and vocabulary, shots and 
edits as code. Musicians, writers, filmmakers are hackers of 
code too. The difference is that nobody has used intellectual 
property laws to rope off the English language or the 12-bar 
blues as their corporate rainmaker — ^yet. But this is what is 
happening to computer code. A straightjacket of property law 
keeps it chained to the interests of monopoly. Lessig favors a 
"thin" intellectual property regime. Lessig questions the scope 


of "property" but does not ask the property question. He does 
not hack the law itself. Lessig is the most impressive of those 
authors who believe in intellectual policy law and policy as 
more or less neutral arbiters that might arrive at settings in the 
interests of people as a whole. But law and policy are themselves 
clearly being coopted by vectoraHst interests, making a mock- 
ery of the constructive goodwill on ofiFer in Lessig's work. 


[274] Giorgio Agamben, Means without End: Notes on Politics (Minne- 
apolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), p. 87. See also 
Gioigio Agamben, Homo Sacer (Stanford: Stanford University 
Press, 1998). Marxist thought in its post-Althusserian guise was 
unable to think through the becoming-image of the commod- 
ity, in which exchange value ecUpses use value, opening the 
Debordian spectacle toward Jean Baudrillard's world of pure 
sign value. The spectacle may be the alienation of language it- 
self, the expropriation of the logos, of the possibility of a com- 
mon good, but Agamben rightly perceives a way out. What we 
encounter in the spectacle is our linguistic nature inverted. It is 
an alienated language in which language itself is — or can be — 
revealed. The spectacle may be the uprooting of all peoples 
from their dwelling in language, the severing of the founda- 
tions of all state forms, but this very alienation of language re- 
turns it as something that can be experienced as such, "bringing 
language itself to language" — a third nature. Agamben finds 
the emerging crisis of the state in this complete alienation of 
language. The state now exists in a permanent state of emer- 
gency, where the secret police are its last functioning agency. 
The state can recognize any identity, so proposing new identi- 
ties to it is not to challenge it. New identities may push the state 
toward a further abstraction, but they merely recognize in the 
state a grounding the state really doesn't possess as final author- 
ity on the kinds of citizenship that might belong within it. The 


coming struggle is not to control the state but to exceed and es- 
cape it into the unrepresentable. For Agamben, Tiananmen is 
the first outbreak of this movement to create a common life 
outside of representation. What never occurs to Agamben is 
to inquire into the historical — rather than philological — condi- 
tions of existence of this most radical challenge to the state. 
Agamben reduces everything to power and the body. Like the 
Althusserians, he too has dispensed with the problem of relat- 
ing together the complex of historical forces. In moving so 
quickly fi-om the commodity form to the state form, the ques- 
tion of the historical process of the production of the abstrac- 
tion and the abstraction of production disappears, and with it 
the development of class struggle. It may well be that the com- 
ing community is one in which everjfthing may be repeated as 
is, without its identity — but what are the conditions of possibil- 
ity for such a moment to arrive the first time? That condition is 
the development of the relations of telesthesia, webbed to- 
gether as a third nature, which present as their negative aspect 
the society of the spectacle, but present as its potential the gen- 
eralized abstraction of information, the condition under which 
the identity of the object with itself need not reign. The first 
citizens of Agamben's community, having neither origins nor 
destinies — ^without need of a state — can only be the hacker 
class, who hack through, and dispense with, all properties of 
the object and subject. The gesture that is neither use value nor 
exchange value, a pure praxis, pure play, the beyond of the 
commodity form, can only be the hacking of the hacker class as 
a class, calling into being its true conditions of existence, which 
are simultaneously the conditions of its disappearance as such. 


[282] Karl Marx, "Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right," in Early 
Writings (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975), p. 244. This is the 
significant mutation in the field of ideology: rather than being 


something outside of the cult of the sacred, the market be- 
comes the only thing that is sacred. It is of course a figure that 
abounds in hypocritical subtleties. Contrary to popular behef, 
the ruling classes do not really believe in the market. They do 
not even accept it as necessity. They use the power of the state 
to prevent the free market from operating when it is contrary 
to their interests, and use the power of the state to enforce it 
against rival factions within the ruling classes when it is in their 
interests. The task for hacker thought is not to get caught up in 
supporting or denouncing liberal ideology, which after all is 
only ideology, but to examine its highly selective application in 

[283] Raoul Vaneigem, The Movement of the Free Spirit (New York: 
Zone Books, 1998), p. 37. Vaneigem, that cranky co-philoso- 
pher of the Situationist International, brings the hacker spirit to 
bear here in freeing thought from its implication in the institu- 
tions of education that would make it a tool in the hands of 
class power. Just as Deleuze sought out a counter tradition 
within philosophy, one that did not set thought up as the imagi- 
nary administrator of an abstract state to come, Vaneigem 
sought out a counter tradition to that counter tradition, closer 
to everyday life. In The Movement of the Free Spirit he proposes a 
secret history for the struggle for the virtual, which a hacker 
history might take, with some modifications, as its own. 

[289] Gilles Deleuze and Claire Pamet, Dialogues (New York: Colum- 
bia University Press, 1987), p. 147. The liberation of desire, not 
just from the objective, from mere things, but also from the 
subjective, from identity, forms a key part of the hacker project, 
precisely because it opens toward the virtual. Here Deleuze, 
Guattari and the odd philosophical ancestors they assemble — 
Lucretius, Spinoza, Hume, Nietzsche, Bergson — can be of use, 
provided one resists the pull of the flight out of history that 
happens in the Deleuze industry once the desire that animates 
it is that of the educational apparatus. 


[293] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and 
Schizophrenia (London: Athlone Press, 1984), p. 116. This exem- 
plary crypto-Marxist work attempts to invent and apply tools of 
analysis across the economic, political and cultural realm by 
identifying planes of abstraction and the vectors of movement. 
It is a work very much of its time, crawling out of the ashes of 
May 68, and pointing toward the various errors that would in- 
fest radical thought from the 70s onwards. 


[300] Georges Bataille, The AccMrsed Share, voL 1 (New York: Zone 
Books, 1988), p. 33. Bataille is an exemplary crypto-Marxist au- 
thor, who in this work does more than anyone to undermine 
the iron grip of necessity on history. Where the dismal science 
of economics concerns itself merely with maximizing the size 
of the surplus, Bataille inquires into what can actually be done 
with it — other than reinvesting it in production — to make yet 
more surplus. 

[308] Marcel Mauss, The Gift (New York: Norton, 1990), p. 67. This is 
a text that calls for a re-examination, in the light of the abstract 
form the gift may take in the vectoral era. Mauss's socialism 
may yet find its medium. Telesthesia opens up new possibilities 
not just for the commodity economy, but for the gift as well. It 
makes possible the abstract gift, in which the giver and receiver 
do not directly confront one another. It makes possible the in- 
formation gift, which enriches the recipient but does not de- 
prive the giver. Various peer-to-peer networks spring up sponta- 
neously as soon as the information vector makes it possible, 
and call down upon themselves the full technical, legal and po- 
litical wrath of the vectoral class and its agents. 


[313] William S. Burroughs, The Ticket That Exploded (New York: 
Grove Press, 1962), pp. 49-50. Along the line that extends from 


the lone beacon that is Lautreamont to Dada, the Surrealists, 
Fluxus, the Situationists, Art & Language, to contemporary 
groups such as Critical Art Ensemble, one can include also 
that aspect of the Beats — Burroughs, Alexander Trocchi, Brion 
Gysin — ^that experiments with forms of collective creation that 
might exist outside of property. Indeed what might form the 
basis of a kind of counter-canonic succession, from Lautrea- 
mont to Kathy Acker, Luther Blissett, and Stewart Home, a Ut- 
erature for the hacker class, would be precisely the attempt to 
invent, outside of the property form and vectoral form of its 
time, a fiee yet not merely random productivity. 
[315] Karl Marx, Grundrisse (London: Penguin, 1993), p. 524. The ma- 
terial means by which the exchange relation is extended across 
the surface of the world is the vector of telethesia. The vector is 
at once material and yet also abstract. It has no necessary spa- 
tial coordinates. It is an abstract form of relationality that can 
occupy any coordinates whatsoever. While Marx discovers, in 
the margins of the Grundrisse, the significance of communica- 
tion, he does not integrate it into the heart of his theory. When 
he speaks of the general equivalent, for example, when he 
holds up coats and cotton, and explains that it is the general 
equivalent, money, that creates their abstract relation, he does 
ask where exactly this abstract relation finds its material form, 
which is precisely, the vector. 


[354] Konrad Becker, Tactical Reality Dictionary (Vienna: Edition 
Selene, 2002), p. 130. Becker's text works by turning the lan- 
guage of communications research against itself. He turns up 
the volume of its pseudo-scientific rhetoric so one can hear the 
static of power. This text does not pretend to "speak truth to 
power." It dispenses with the ideology of debunking ideology. 
The struggle in Becker's terms is rather one of discovering who 
or what controls the mechanisms of defining truth and illusion. 


Becker follows closely the post-enlightenment turn in the cor- 
porate rhetorics of the vectoral class, which may promote "de- 
mocracy," "freedom," "rebellion" and "diversity" as official ide- 
ology, but is mainly in the business of maintaining a proprietary 
control over their semantic range.